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Queer Lives

Eight gay men wrote their autobiographies in French between 1845 and 1905: some of them reflected on their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, while others provided brief impressions of their loves and desires. A few of them dramatized their lives following contemporary theatrical and fictional models, while others wrote for medical doctors, who used their writings as case studies to illustrate their theories on sexual deviance. In some instances the doctors’ extensive interpretations cannot be separated from the men's own stories, but in others the authors speak for themselves.
The remarkable autobiographies in Queer Lives, translated into English for the first time here, give present-day readers a rare glimpse into otherwise shrouded existences. They relate the experiences of a man about town, a cross-dressing entertainer, a troubled adolescent, and two fetishists, among others. The autobiographies will interest a wide audience today at a time when readers are seeking new views on the lives of ordinary men and women from the past, when gay people are looking for the roots of their communities, and when scholars are trying to understand the formation of sexual identities at a crucial moment in the history of modern Europe.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Queer Lives: Men's Autobiographies from Nineteenth-Century France Part I: The Countess: The Dramatization of the Self Autobiography 1: Arthur W..., "The Countess," Secret Confessions of a Parisian (1874) Part II: Doctors and Patients: Autobiographies as Case Studies Autobiography 2: Anonymous, "Loves," in Dr. Ambroise Tardieu, A Medical and Legal Study on Assaults against Morality (1867) Autobiography 3: Anonymous, "Observation I," in Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and Dr. Valentin Magnan, Inversion of the Sexual Instinct (1881) Autobiography 4: Gustave L..., "Autobiographical Notes," in Dr. Paul Garnier, Madness in Paris (1890) Autobiography 5: Louis X..., "Autobiographical Notes," in Dr. Paul Garnier, The Fetishists (1895) Autobiography 6: Antonio ..., "Letter to My Parents" and "My Autobiography," in Dr. Andre Antheaume and Dr. Leon Parrot, A Case of Sexual Inversion (1905) Autobiography 7: Charles Double, "Mental Hermaphrodite and Other Autobiographical Writings"(1905) Part III: The Novel of An Invert: Literature, Medicine, and Self Expression Autobiography 8: Anonymous, The Novel of an Invert (1889, 1896)

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Gives present-day readers a rare glimpse into the otherwise shrouded existences of gay men in nineteenth-century France

About the Author

William A. Peniston is the manager of the Newark Museum's library and archives. He is the author of Pederasts and Others: Urban Culture and Sexual Identity in Nineteenth-Century Paris. Nancy Erber is a professor of linguistics and modern languages at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She is the coeditor of Disorder in the Court: Trials and Sexual Conflict at the Turn of the Century.


"The bibliography and cross-referencing in this book are formidable and would be a very useful tool for an academic. The reader with an interest in history will enjoy the descriptions of gay life in La Belle Epoque."--Gay Times, March 2008

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