Nineteenth-Century French Gay Male Literature

(7044 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

In 1789 the absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed under the weight of radical social upheaval. What followed was nothing less than an epic transformation of French society; among the many changes was the French Penal Code of 1791, adopted by the Constituent Assembly, influenced by Enlightenment thinking, and therefore staunchly opposed to Catholic morality. Not surprising then that the pre-1789 laws that criminalized sodomy would be left out of this code as well as the Napoleonic code of 1810. Small in scale compared to the mammoth rewriting of French civil and penal codes, the omission of sodomy laws inaugurated a new era for nineteenth-century gay men. This, coupled with the emergent scientific study of …

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Gomolka, C J. "Nineteenth-Century French Gay Male Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 April 2013; last revised .
[, accessed 04 July 2015.]

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  1. Queer (GLBT) Literature