Cover for SCHEHR: French Gay Modernism

French Gay Modernism

Awards and Recognition:

A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2006.

A study of the representation of gayness in French modernist fiction during the 1920s and 1930s

The first four decades of the twentieth century saw male homosexuality appear in French literature with increasing frequency and boldness. Departing from earlier, more muted presentations, André Gide, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, René Crevel, Francis Carco, and a host of less-famous writers, all created overtly gay characters are gave them increasingly numerous and significant roles. Far from being simply shunned or marginalized, a number of these works were instead accepted as canonical.

Lawrence Schehr's French Gay Modernism is the only study devoted to the analyzing these representations of male homosexuality in early twentieth-century French literature. Schehr explains how earlier representations of homosexuality, encoded rather than conspicuous, served as a basis for later writers to treat homosexual behavior as sets of relationships rather than as secrets or scandals. The prominence of authors such as Proust and Gide also helped other writers take up homosexual relationships in their work, often by adopting the same representational strategies.

Schehr doesn't limit his study to high literary culture, however. He devotes considerable attention to popular writers whose homosexual characters encounter contempt, scorn, and worse and whose portrayals of homosexual couples and society were at once more open and more at risk.

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