Taboo : Corporeal Secrets in Nineteenth-century France, Hardback Book

Taboo : Corporeal Secrets in Nineteenth-century France Hardback


French realist texts are driven by representations of the body and depend on corporeality to generate narrative intrigue.

But anxieties around bodily representation undermine realist claims of objectivity and transparency.

Aspects of bodily reality which threaten les bonnes moeurs - gender confusion, sexual appetite, disability, torture, murder, child abuse and disease - rarely occupy the foreground and are instead spurned or only partially alluded to by writers and critics.

This wide-ranging study uses the notion of the taboo as a powerful means of interpreting representations of the body.

The hidden bodies of realist texts reveal their secrets in unexpected ways.

Thompson reads texts by Sand, Rachilde, Maupassant, Hugo, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Mirbeau and Zola alongside modern theorists of the body to show how the figure of the taboo plots an alternative model of author-reader relations based on the struggle to speak the unspeakable. Dr Hannah Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in French at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Her first book, Naturalism Redressed: Identity and Clothing in the Novels of Emile Zola, was published by Legenda in 2004.


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