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Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone$
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Tamara Levitz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199730162

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730162.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

André’s Masked Pleasures

André’s Masked Pleasures

Chapter:
(p.239) 4 André’s Masked Pleasures
Source:
Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone
Author(s):

Tamara Levitz

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730162.003.0004

This chapter examines how Gide revolutionized the expression of male same-sex desire in the writing strategies he developed for the narcissus plucking moment in Perséphone. In his treatise on pédérastie, Corydon, Gide countered the dominant belief of his time that desire was always heterosexual by proposing that male same-sex desire could be directed toward the goal of pleasure rather than reproduction. Gide established his point of view against the unrelenting insults of his contemporaries, however—a framework that determined how he positioned himself as a writer. In Perséphone, he coupled Persephone’s same-sex desire with a simultaneous need to fulfil social obligation, and framed both actions against the exclusionary French sexual politics of his day. Persephone’s attraction to the underworld reflects Gide’s interpretation of Orpheus’s “backward glance,” and his understanding of same-sex desire as taking place within a colonial frame. His bifurcated stance leads to a fragmented writing style or “bricolage” in the narcissus-plucking scene.

Keywords:   André Gide, writing strategies, male same-sex desire, history, Pédérastie, homosexuality, pleasure, Bricolage, French sexual politics, gay studies, Corydon, colonialism and homosexuality, Orpheus’s Backward Glance

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