Nineteenth-Century French Gay Male Literature

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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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 sexology and criminology (Tardieu 1859; Lombroso 1887),…

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Citation: Gomolka, C J. "Nineteenth-Century French Gay Male Literature". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 April 2013 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19326, accessed 22 April 2024.]

19326 Nineteenth-Century French Gay Male Literature 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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