Lusting after the Louvre hermaphrodite: medical discourse and androgyny in Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin and its popular predecessors.
Mademoiselle de Maupin recounts a relatively banal love triangle with a few crucial innovations. The Chevalier d'Albert, a young, epicene dandy, searches listlessly for his ideal woman. He eventually takes a lover whom he calls "Rosette"--charmingly after one of his dogs--and although she is extraordinary in every way, she nevertheless falls short of his ideal of perfection. Rosette, the reader learns, is also using d'Albert to palliate an unrequited love for her old flame Theodore de Serannes, who conveniently returns just when d'Albert and Rosette are beginning to become intolerably bored with each other. Much to d'Albert's horror, Theodore, Rosette's former love interest, embodies everything d'Albert had so ardently desired in a lover, and the latter spends the rest of the novel in anguish, hoping Theodore might be a woman and despairing that he would love Theodore even if he were not. At the same time that d'Albert bemoans his impossible love for Theodore, the reader learns that Theodore had earlier refused Rosette's affections for some still unknown and apparently insurmountable obstacle. Through Theodore's letters, we eventually discover the nature of that obstacle: Theodore is really Madeleine de Maupin in disguise. It is only in the novel's final pages that Maupin reveals herself to d'Albert by spending half a night of passion with him before retiring to Rosette's room for the second. She will disappear by dawn. Maupin's final letter explains to d'Albert that she must leave him because they would only inevitably tire of each other.
No doubt because the preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin is better remembered than the novel itself, Gautier's use of androgyny has most often been analyzed in relation to his philosophical aesthetics. (5) I would like to focus, however, on the ways in which the narrative engages with the historical debate surrounding doubtful sex. The justification for what might otherwise seem like an eccentric comparison can be found in Mademoiselle de Maupin's own project. In the tenth chapter, we finally learn that Maupin transformed herself into Theodore de Serannes in order to determine what men were really thinking so that she might find one worthy of loving (1: 382). Maupin explicitly defines this endeavor as medical in nature: "Je voulais etudier l'homme a fond, l'anatomiser fibre par fibre avec un scalpel inexorable et le tenir tout vif et tout palpitant sur ma table de dissection" (I wanted to study man in depth, dissecting him fiber by fiber with an inexorable scalpel and hold him down alive and kicking on the dissecting table) (1: 385). Gautier's use of the scalpel here clearly situates Mademoiselle de Maupin within the realm of what Lawrence Rothfield later termed "medical realism" and what Michel Foucault had already identified as part of the clinical gaze. (6) In addition to anchoring the plot to a new field of inquiry (medicine), this fascinating formulation determines the novel's focus as a study or dissection of human nature, while placing Mademoiselle de Maupin squarely in the role of the doctor/author. Here lies Gautier's most intriguing innovation with respect to the myriad other novels that use doubtful sex as a motor for plot: in Gautier's rendition, the transgressive body--Mademoiselle de Maupin in disguise--turns medical knowledge against stable patriarchal order. Predecessors to Mademoiselle de Maupin all confine themselves to mocking or otherwise suggesting the inability of medicine or science to properly interpret the ambiguous body. Only in Gautier's novel does the disenfranchised party take action against the franchised.
In addition to the medical overtones of Maupin's project, the novel also rehearses a preoccupation with scientific scrutiny in a vain attempt to determine the true sex of Theodore/Madeleine. (7) D'Albert describes studying his/her every contour, movement, and body part in a passage that, I will show, shares a number of similarities with actual case histories of hermaphrodism:
Si vous saviez [...] avec quelle attention haletante et inquiete je vous observais et vous suivais jusque dans vos moindres mouvements! Rien ne m'echappait; comme je regardais ardemment le peu qui paraissait de votre chair au cou ou aux poignets pour tacher de constater votre sexe! [...] J'analysais les ondulations de votre marche, la maniere dont vous posiez les pieds, dont vous releviez vos cheveux; je cherchais a surprendre votre secret dans l'habitude de votre corps. [...] Jamais personne n'a ete couve du regard aussi ardemment que vous. (If you only knew how carefully and with what breathless anxiety I observed you, down to your slightest movements! Nothing escaped me; how eagerly I looked at the finest revelation of skin on your neck or wrists to try to ascertain your sex! [...] I studied the undulation of your walk, how you place your feet and sweep back your hair; I tried to discover your secret from the habits of your body. [...] Never has anyone been looked at more ardently than you.) (356)
Yet for all his intense observation, d'Albert remains powerless to discover Maupin's sex, and his analysis results merely in vacillating interpretations: "Je me disais: Assurement c'est une femme;--puis tout a coup un mouvement brusque et hardi, un accent viril ou quelque facon cavaliere detruisait dans une minute mon frele edifice de probabilites et me rejetait dans mes irresolutions premieres" (I said to myself: "Certainly, she is a woman"--then, suddenly a brusque movement, a manly tone or gesture would destroy my flimsy edifice of likelihood in an instant and throw me back into my original uncertainty) (357). Maupin, for her part, realizes that d'Albert is visually dissecting her: "Il doit connaitre particulierement chacun de mes cheveux et savoir au juste combien j'ai de cils aux paupieres; mes pieds, mes mains, mon cou, mes joues, le moindre duvet au coin de ma levre, il a tout examine, tout compare, tout analyse" (He must know individually each one of my hairs and exactly how many eyelashes I have; my feet, my hands, my neck, my cheeks, the slightest hairs on the corner of my lip, he has examined everything, compared everything, analyzed everything) (396). D'Albert, unlike Maupin, however, remains unable to interpret his analysis with any kind of clinical certainty and doubts Maupin's sex virtually until she beds him (1: 511).
This way of observing in order to discover the mystery of doubtful sex is shared by medical publications of the times. In case studies of hermaphrodism, not just body parts, but also gestures, tonalities, and mannerisms all became objects of intense study. (8) Even as the genre of the case history became increasingly codified, doctors often relied on the same narrative techniques found in contemporary literature, including the "descriptive imperative" identified by Peter Brooks as a hallmark of the nineteenth-century novel, and which is evident in d'Albert's visual dissection of Maupin above (Realist Vision 17). (9) Because d'Albert's analysis centers on determining Maupin's sex through visual scrutiny, this passage shares more with case studies of hermaphrodism than the popular genre of physiognomy, which relies on observation to describe typology rather than to reveal hidden sexual identity. Foucault has written that such a method of decipherment is a hallmark of the nineteenth century in particular. Already during the eighteenth century, Foucault argues, doctors stopped "recognizing the presence of two sexes, juxtaposed or intermingled, or with knowing which of the two prevailed over the other," and began "deciphering the true sex that was hidden beneath ambiguous appearances" (viii). (10) Foucault describes how, with the advent of this paradigm shift, doctors began "to strip the body of its anatomical deceptions and discover the one true sex behind the organs that might have put on the forms of the opposite sex" (viii-xi). In my analysis of over two hundred case studies, dissertations, and treatises on hermaphrodism, or doubtful sex, I show that contrary to Foucault's claim, the idea of "true sex" was more a claim borne out through narrative case histories than an objective scientific reality, and that many doctors either did not believe it always existed or were unable to determine its nature in ambiguous cases. (11) Much like d'Albert's scrutiny of Theodore, medical examination was often powerless to reveal "true sex," and much like Mademoiselle de Maupin's own self-identification as a member of a "third sex," a number of doctors believed that a third, neuter sex did in fact exist, and some even attempted to modify the civil code to reflect this fact. (12)
The very same year that Mademoiselle de Maupin appeared, in 1835, Dr. Dany published a remarkable case history of Joseph/Josephine Badre, which opens with a novelistic rendering of Badre's upbringing and youth composed in the literary passe simple. The account includes mistaken identity, cross-dressing, a number of peripeteia, sexual exploits, dishonesty, and penetrating visual analysis. The considerable suspense cultivated by Badre's story is resolved only at the denouement, when the patient, having succumbed to a sudden bout of pneumonia, is autopsied, revealing a single atrophied and undescended testicle that appeared to doctors to have stopped developing early in gestation. (13) Badre was the subject of an earlier medical examination and resulting publication, and both case histories combine technical, detached clinical analysis with the kind of creativity that one associates more with literature. (14) For example, Badre's dishonesty about his ability to ejaculate becomes a deduction generating almost as much speculation as the description of the autopsy itself, and which Dany ultimately attributes to "un sentiment de vanite ou le desir d'inspirer plus d'interet" (a feeling of vanity or the desire to inspire more interest) (462). Meegan Kennedy has shown that such "discursive hybridity," especially in early nineteenth-century case histories, contributes to the genre's natural structure of suspense and resolution by highlighting the physician's insight as much as his clinical observation and command of medical technology. Moreover, certain of the terms used in Gautier's novel to assess Maupin's sex reappear in Badre's case study, and the medical case includes a novelistic rendition of how Badre came to believe that his sex had been incorrectly determined at birth:
En effet, l'age, en developpant les organes, fit bientot apparaitre sur la levre superieure et le menton un duvet qui, leger d'abord, ne tarda pas a prendre une certaine consistance. Le jeune Badre avait deja remarque en folatrant avec ses compagnes, qu'elles n'offraient point les caracteres qu'il observait chez lui, et s'examinant avec une nouvelle attention, il se confirma dans l'idee qu'on avait commis une erreur a son egard. Honteux de paraitre au milieu de femmes sous un costume qui contrastait singulierement avec les signes prononces de la virilite, il prit la resolution de changer de vetements et de se rendre a Paris sous le nom de Joseph Badre. Ce projet, a peine concu, fut mis aussitot a execution.
(Age, as it were, by developing the organs, soon made hair appear on the upper lip and chin, which, light at first, soon took on a certain thickness. The young Badre had already remarked, while frolicking with his female companions, that they did not offer the same characteristics that he observed in himself, and by examining himself with renewed attention, he confirmed his belief that an error had been committed in his case. Ashamed to appear among women in a costume that contrasted singularly with his pronounced signs of virility, he adopted the resolution to switch clothing and to arrive in Paris under the name Joseph Badre. No sooner had this project been conceived than it was executed). (Dany 461-62)
Like the fictional character Maupin, Badre switched clothing and embarked on a new beginning, hoping that the anonymity of the capital would enable him to express a more authentic or at least less shameful identity.
Examining popular fiction such as Latouche's Fragoletta further reveals the previously overlooked connection between medical discourse on hermaphrodism and Gautier's representation of androgyny. (15) Despite the current obscurity of Latouche's work, Fragoletta enjoyed relative success when it was published in 1829. (16) Several theatrical spin-offs followed the novel, and Latouche's more illustrious contemporaries recognized the enduring influence of Fragoletta. (17) As a journalist, Gautier covered one vaudeville interpretation of Fragoletta and was struck by the "grace of the hermaphrodite"--a feature he sought to emulate with his own androgynous creation, Mademoiselle de Maupin (Segu 342). The Theodore-Madeleine pair in Gautier's masterpiece is inspired by the Philippe-Camille pair in Latouche's novel, and Balzac also cites Fragoletta as the catalyst for his own doubtful sex novel, Seraphita. Beyond the nineteenth century, however, the few critics who do mention Latouche generally confine their observations to a grudging acknowledgment that Balzac and Gautier owe a debt of inspiration to his pioneering use of androgyny in Fragoletta. Backhanded compliments about Latouche's beleaguered personal life and sporadic moments of genius ensue, such that the overarching importance of Fragoletta on the canon has been too long overlooked. (18)
A sometimes rambling novel, Fragoletta nevertheless reveals the occasional nugget of genius in which the novel's entire purpose seems distilled and condensed into one scene. Perhaps the most poignant of such moments occurs when Eleonore Pimentale, a famous artist, accompanies friends d'Hauteville and Camille (or Fragoletta) to the Museum of Naples, where they encounter Polycles's statue of a recumbent hermaphrodite. D'Hauteville plays the French military man and brooding romantic hero who at first seems guilt-stricken over the death of a former lover, but who gradually falls in love with the androgynous Camille. The latter, at this point, is locked in a loveless and evidently unconsummated marriage with a much older man. She appears flattered by d'Hauteville's advances, but her impressions of him will shift radically once they behold the hermaphrodite sculpture. In historical fact, Napoleon had purchased the statue from his brother-in-law, the prince Camille Borghese, in 1807 and had it installed in the Fouvre, so the work would have been available for Latouche's immediate scrutiny as he penned Fragoletta. (19) Approaching the statue from behind, d'Hauteville is struck by its graceful feminine beauty--at once mysterious and revealing: "Appuyee sur un bras plein de souplesse, on la dirait dans un demi-sommeil. La tete, tournee en sens inverse de la pose du corps, semble exprimer a la fois le sourire et la tristesse. Une de ses jambes croisees releve un pied charmant, et l'autre pied est engage avec grce dans les plis d'un manteau, qui laisse cependant presque toute cette beaute sans voile" (Leaning on a graceful arm, one would say that it was half asleep. The head, turned in the opposite direction to the body's pose, seems to express at once a smile and sadness. One of the crossed legs lifts a charming foot, and the other is gracefully entwined in the folds of a cloak, which nevertheless leaves almost all of this beauty without veil) (1: 87). But the statue reserves a shock for d'Hauteville: As he circles to the front he lets out an "exclamation de surprise" (exclamation of surprise), instinctively turning his head "afin de cacher un sourire" (to hide a smile) (1: 88). Camille, on the other hand, follows him, without comprehension: "Ingenument, elle s'arreta ainsi que lui, considera un moment le marbre, puis le Francais, comme pour l'interroger sur son etonnement" (Naively, she stopped alongside him, considered the marble for a moment, and then the Frenchman, as if to question him about his surprise) (1: 88). Initially, two possible interpretations present themselves for Camille's apparent incomprehension as she contemplates d'Hauteville's wonderment: Either she does not know what an erect member is (and therefore is not surprised by it), or she does not think it is out of place on this marble-bosomed body (1: 88, 89). In a moment I will show why the text supports only the latter of the two possibilities. Whatever the case, however, by watching d'Hauteville, Camille instantly internalizes that this combination is comical, lacks verisimilitude, and, in his eyes, constitutes an unworthy subject of art.
It is to Latouche's credit that this crucial moment of revelation can be read on multiple levels. On the surface, the historical and artistic stakes of hermaphrodism are debated from two opposing worldviews. On a deeper level, however, the scene teaches Camille--mediated through d'Hauteville's reactions--about the transgressive nature of her own body. (20) Initially, Eleonore and d'Hauteville debate the merits of hermaphrodism as a subject of art. Eleonore, ever the artist, champions the purity of aesthetic expression in all forms, and lambastes d'Hauteville as "un de ces hommes du nord, dont l'imagination s'effarouche de tout" (one of these men of the north whose imagination is offended by everything) (1: 88). Conversely, d'Hauteville, a military man of action, questions the artistic merit of certain corporeal subjects. For him, the "capricieuse composition" (capricious composition) seems "indigne des arts" (unworthy of art), and he wonders, "Pourquoi donner un corps a une si fabuleuse reverie?" (Why give a body to such a fanciful daydream?) (1: 89). This remark sparks a shift in their conversation to the historical existence of hermaphrodites, and it becomes immediately apparent that d'Hauteville has conducted a fair bit of research on the subject, despite his prudish airs. He explains to Eleonore that he has read historians "racontant qu'a Athenes on precipitait dans la mer, et a Rome, dans le Tibre, ces monstres, que votre amour du merveilleux voudrait nous faire admirer" (who record that these monsters that your love of the marvelous would have us admire were once thrown into the sea in Athens and the Tiber in Rome) (1: 90). Contemporary reference books evoke similar tales. (21) The narrator further hints at d'Hauteville's bad faith by describing the contradiction between his actions and his discourse. When Eleonore reminds d'Hauteville that hermaphrodites might exist in nature even today, he confesses, having overcome his initial giggles and now unable to wrench his eyes from the statue, that he has read corroborative legal and medical testimony:
Je crois me souvenir, en effet, poursuivit legerement d'Hauteville, mais les yeux toujours attaches sur la statue, je crois me souvenir que la science moderne a quelque fois mele ses attestations a votre croyance. De graves docteurs et des avocats sont, ma foi, intervenus a propos de semblables phenomenes; mais j'ai toujours suppose et je croirai toujours qu'ils abusaient de notre credulite. (In truth, I believe I remember, continued d'Hauteville slowly, but his eyes still fixed on the statue, I believe I remember that modern science has sometimes mixed its attestations with your belief. Serious doctors and lawyers have, in faith, intervened on behalf of similar phenomena, but I have always supposed and I will always believe that they were taking advantage of our gullibility.) (1: 89-90)
D'Hauteville's stubborn refusal to admit the existence of hermaphrodism despite the certification of "serious" doctors, lawyers, and historians serves as one metaphor for reading the novel. True to his word, the military man fumbles through the next several hundred pages without ever discovering why Camille refuses his perpetual advances, never really listening for the meaning of his/her protestations. D'Hauteville's interpretation is not necessarily wrong; at no point will Latouche clearly disprove him. It is, in fact, possible to read the entire novel a la d'Hauteville, as several critics have, imagining that Camille is no more than a "psychological hermaphrodite" and a cross-dresser who later assumes a man's identity in order to discover the world differently, much like Gautier's later Mademoiselle de Maupin. But the narrator's hints also invite a more attentive reading that is important not because of the scandal they unleash but because they will go a long way toward explaining the fascination with androgyny in works by Balzac, Gautier, and beyond.
In order to understand the subtext of the museum scene, we must again turn to the narrator for clues. Thoroughly engaged by his debate with Eleonore and still transfixed by the statue, d'Hauteville fails to notice that Camille has been backing away from him as he speaks: "Camille s'eloigna de quelques pas, sans doute par un naturel instinct de pudeur, et Eleonore, plus libre, continua" (Camille distanced herself by several steps, likely because of a natural instinct of prudishness, and Eleonore, more liberated, continued) (1: 90). The secret outrage of the museum scene is that Latouche describes Camille's anatomy with the kind of detail that no novel could permit. Meaning is communicated through the reactions of others, and all the implied references to Camille's person are mediated through a block of stone. The inattentive reader might think that a naive Camille is not surprised by the sculpture's member because she is in complete ignorance of all human anatomy. The same reader might take the narrator at his word that d'Hauteville is a prude and that Camille backs away from him as if in fear of the ancient "monsters" he invokes. But the attentive reader will notice that Camille is horrified in this scene because she identifies with the hermaphrodite and because she learns that the man who has been professing his love to her ad nauseam would abhor her should she reveal her true identity. She is not "liberated" in the way Eleonore is to discuss the theoretical merits her body offers to art, because she is tied to this body that she now learns is a curse. Nor can she dismiss scientific authority or historical narrative with the same kind of half-conscious distraction (or perhaps sexual stimulation) as d'Hauteville because the bodies she imagines coming under scrutiny and hurled off cliffs are similar to her own and similar to the one she sees before her.
Later events support this interpretation. We learn that Camille, in particular, rushed to leave the museum, and that, despite several reasons not to, she insisted on returning home that very night, and that "son esprit semblait [...] tombe dans quelque preoccupation penible, et on eut dit qu'elle cherchait a s'arracher violemment a une pensee qui l'obsedait" (Her spirit seemed to have fallen into some painful preoccupation, and one would have said that she was seeking to wrench herself away from a thought that was obsessing her) (1: 96, 93-94). From the moment that Camille overhears d'Hauteville's thoughts about hermaphrodism, she knows any relationship with him will prove impossible; indeed, that all love is forbidden to her. This will become a leitmotif in every other nineteenth-century novel about a hermaphrodite and even in several novels with hermaphroditic main characters. (D'Albert, for example, constantly laments his forbidden and "monstrous" attraction to Theodore.) Leading up to the museum scene, Camille had seemed interested in d'Hauteville, with her only reticence apparently stemming from the fact that she was married at the time. Camille's elderly husband, however, has never been her lover or even the jealous type. Instead, he serves as a purely paternal figure, and he will handpick d'Hauteville as his successor before dying. In d'Hauteville's mind, therefore, the temporary obstacle to his happiness is Camille's marriage, but Camille has just learned the existence of insurmountable complications.
Camille becomes so despondent after viewing the sculpture that even the daydreamer d'Hauteville eventually notices something is wrong. Yet, despite Camille's veiled confessions, the Frenchman stubbornly refuses to listen. Camille hints that, like the sculpture, she is "la fille d'un sculpteur" (the daughter of a sculptor) (1: 100). Lamenting her mother's death, she adds, to the chagrin of her interlocutor, that "d'aujourd'hui je suis sure que ma mere seule aurait pu encore m'aimer sur la terre" (From today onward I am sure that my mother is the only person who could have ever loved me on this earth) (1: 102). D'Hauteville, as usual, fails to notice the significance of this "today" and to recall the lessons that might set it apart from all others. Instead, he sentimentally offers to give his life "mille fois" (a thousandfold) to the being he had unknowingly called a "monster" only a moment earlier (1: 102). While d'Hauteville drones on with romantic platitudes about the "serenity" and "sweetness" of the night, Camille seems deep in thought. Suddenly, s/he announces for the first time that s/he has a long-lost brother, Philippe Adriani, whose identity s/he will assume in the remainder of the novel. (22) After the museum scene, Camille's own body becomes the obstacle to his/her fulfillment. From this point on, Camille will constantly repeat--both as a woman and as a man--that the future holds no promise of happiness (1: 103).
Latouche redoubles clues to Camille's hermaphrodism without ever stating it en toutes lettres. On the return ferry from the museum, Camille notices that the ship is flooding, and with the true martyrdom of romantic heroes, both Camille and d'Hauteville clamor to sacrifice themselves so that the other should live, believing that a lighter load might save the sinking vessel. At first glance, this scene reads like a confirmation of Latouche's inability to organize his novel. (23) In fact, however, it provides another clue to Camille's identity. Only pages earlier, d'Hauteville had described how hermaphrodites were once hurled off cliffs to drown, so Camille's sudden desire to perish in the waves can be seen as a confession of his/her hermaphroditic nature. Lest we overlook this clue, Latouche alerts us to the parallel by using the word monstre. (It is perhaps worth recalling that the word monster comes from the Latin monere, meaning "to warn.") (24) Racked by the guilt of having incited the suicide of his former lover, d'Hauteville declares himself a "monster" who deserves death (1: 107). Camille, once again, announces that she is the monstrous one: "Non! Ce n'est pas vous, ce n'est pas vous, repeta Camille ... et ce n'est pas a vous de mourir" (No! It isn't you, it isn't you, repeated Camille ... and it isn't for you to die) (1: 107). The immediate juxtaposition of these two sentences makes apparent that Camille believes s/he is the "monster" and that it is his/her place to die. Unsurprisingly, d'Hauteville remains too preoccupied with his heroic posturing to listen.
In a letter addressed to d'Hauteville, Camille later admits to having read up on his/her own condition and that studies confirm s/he is doomed: "J'ai reflechi sur mon sort; je me suis eclairee par des meditations et des lectures; je n'ai rien a esperer, ni a craindre. Je m'eloigne donc d'un pays livre a la colere des hommes injustes. Dieu lui-meme est injuste aussi; car l'existence qu'il m'a donnee porterait malheur a qui placerait en moi une esperance d'attachement" (I have reflected on my fate; I have been enlightened by meditations and readings; I have nothing to hope for or to fear. I am therefore going away from a country given over to the anger of unjust men. God himself is unjust too, because the existence that he gave me would bring misfortune to whoever might place his hope for a bond with me) (1: 164). (25) D'Hauteville is crestfallen. By this point, Camille's husband has finally died, and d'Hauteville had hoped that all obstacles to his love would disappear with the old man. Instead, Camille's persistent hints leave d'Hauteville only with a growing awareness of some impenetrable mystery: "Il y a la quelque affreux secret qu'il faut decouvrir" (Therein lies some horrible secret that must be discovered) (1: 164). This secret--which is in some ways an open secret--and d'Hauteville's mission to uncover it become the motor driving the plot forward. Barthes called this enigma propelling the narrative the "hermeneutic code," and often, as he explains, it remains incompletely resolved at the denouement. (26) Our goal as reader is the same as that of d'Hauteville, but just as he never really "gets it," neither does Latouche fully unveil the mystery to the reader. If we have been waiting for Latouche to spell out the riddle, to confirm for us that Philippe was really Camille all along, that s/he is a hermaphrodite just like the sculpture, we will be frustrated.
In the final duel, Philippe reiterates Camille's proclamations about being a monster and deserving death: "Qui vous a dit que j'eusse une conscience, un coeur et de l'humanite? [...] Qu'y-a-t-il de commun entre moi et les creatures humaines? Je ne suis pas de leur espece" (Who told you that I had a conscience, a heart, and humanity? What do I have in common with human creatures? I am not of their species) (2: 326, 328-29). When d'Hauteville finally kills "Philippe," the dying hermaphrodite tries unsuccessfully to cast himself/herself into the sea (a second echo of the ancient tales) in hopes of disguising the truth of his/her body forever. Nevertheless, Camille/Philippe's body is brought to a neighboring cloister where "le plus age des religieux, qui exercait doctement la medecine" (The oldest of the priests trained to practice medicine) begins an autopsy by opening Camille/Philippe's blouse (2: 340). The novel's last enigmatic line reads: "Mes freres [...] il faut porter le cadavre chez les Soeurs de la Misericorde" (My brothers [...] we must bring the body to the Sisters of Mercy) (2: 341). At first glance, this is one of the more maddening conclusions French literature has to offer. Could Camille really only ever have been a woman who disguised as a man in order to avoid d'Hauteville for some undisclosed reason? Such a conclusion cannot account for the way Camille suddenly refuses d'Hauteville's attentions after the museum visit. Even though Latouche's entire novel fundamentally resists certainty, resonances send us back to the sculpture scene for a second interpretation. (27)
In the final pages, the priest abandons his autopsy table the moment he discovers Camille/Philippe's breasts. These breasts represent a fleshy parallel to the sculpture, and like the stone member that scandalized d'Hauteville, they are startling because of their context. The male genitalia was shocking on what d'Hauteville believed to be a female body, just as the breasts are shocking because they were discovered on what was thought to be a male corpse, by a man who is, moreover, forbidden to see them. However, the scene is also a lie, since the postmortem was never completed. Upon finding breasts, the befuddled religious doctor retreats: "Il tressaillit. Il posa neanmoins a la hate un premier appareil avant de s'eloigner; et il s'eloigna les yeux baisses, le front rouge, et le maintien trouble" (He was shaking. He nevertheless quickly put down a first instrument before going away, and he did so with his eyes down, his forehead red, and his countenance troubled) (2: 340). The priest's shock recalls d'Hauteville's initial embarrassment before the sculpture. His is another metaphor for reading, but one that stops short of examining the whole text. Both reactions tell cautionary tales about readerly response that provide insight into why Latouche chose to tread so lightly in his descriptions of the hermaphrodite Fragoletta. Although we assume Camille/Philippe's trousers reserve the same surprise as the sculpture, we cannot know because Latouche does not disclose this information. Perhaps he feared a similar scene would tip the balance of his novel toward farce, that his prudish reader, like d'Hauteville looking at the sculpture, might turn away.
At the same time, however, to overly insist on a reading of Camille/Philippe as physiological hermaphrodite would be tantamount to missing the point. At some level, our desire as a reader to see the full "truth" revealed commits the same essentialist assumption as the fearful priest: it suggests that sexual identity is inscribed on the body. It is only a matter of knowing where to look and how to tally up the parts. The beauty of Latouche's denouement is that he denies any gratification of such certainty. By refusing to fully undress Camille/Philippe, Latouche effectively deconstructs any essential notion of sex by dissociating it from the presence of a given body part. Instead, we learn that peering underneath clothing does not necessarily reveal any truth at all. It tells us only about ourselves and what we allow ourselves to see, like the priest, who discovers only a mirror for his own shame. By refusing to reveal the "truth" of bodies, Fragoletta introduces the possibility that there is no bodily truth or, at least, that medicine, like the inobservant "doctor," can only clumsily decipher it. Contemporary medical literature on hermaphrodism relates similar difficulties and sexing errors, as we saw in Badre's case. (28)
Just as the hermaphroditic body becomes the generative pretext for the medical narrative of the case study, Latouche's Fragoletta will influence a long line of fictional narratives that rely on doubtful sex as a motor for plot--the most famous of which is certainly Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin. Many nineteenth-century texts, including Balzac's Seraphita, participate in this tradition. In Barthes's well-known analysis of Sarrasine, another of Balzac's doubtful sex novels, the critic first identifies the mystery of doubtful sex as the "hermeneutic code." (29) In this story, the identity of the ghastly old man and the beautiful androgyne in the painting become the enigmas that the text promises to reveal. If we keep reading, we eventually discover that they are one and the same: the painting portrays the now old man in the full glory of his youth as the castrato and famed courtesan Zambinella. Just as in Balzac's Sarrasine, the sexual identity of a hermaphroditic main character becomes the "hermeneutic code" of many novels that describe doubtful sex, but in Mademoiselle de Maupin, Gautier uses a unique narrative style that enables him to innovate with respect to his predecessors.
Relying on a kind of hybrid epistolary form, Gautier is able to defer the revelation of Maupin's "true sex" virtually until the end of the novel. This rhetorical strategy involves letters in the traditional form of the epistolary novel--in which characters describe their inner thoughts and feelings to a close friend--and a narrator who summarizes events, as he puts it, "dans la forme ordinaire du roman" (in the ordinary form of the novel) (1: 332). As Gautier himself remarked by describing Mademoiselle de Maupin as a "genre monstre" (monstrous genre), the novel's structure mirrors its hermaphroditic main character (1: 244). This hybrid approach allows Gautier to project the illusion of mystery long after the reader discovers that Theodore de Serannes is really Mademoiselle de Maupin in disguise. In the sixth chapter, the narrator already hints that Theodore might be a woman when her partially unbuttoned blouse reveals unusual contours for a man:
le commencement d'une certaine ligne ronde difficile a expliquer sur la poitrine d'un jeune garcon [...]. Le lecteur en pensera ce qu'il voudra; [...] nous n'en savons pas la-dessus plus que lui, mais nous esperons en apprendre davantage dans quelque temps, et nous lui promettons de le tenir fidelement au courant de nos decouvertes.--Que le lecteur, s'il a la vue moins basse que nous, enfonce son regard sous la dentelle de cette chemise, et decide en conscience si ce contour est trop ou trop peu saillant; mais nous l'avertissons que les rideaux sont tires, et qu'il regne dans la chambre un demi jour peu favorable a ces sortes d'investigations. (the beginning of a certain rounded line difficult to explain on the chest of a young boy. The reader will think of it what he will; [...] we know no more about it than he, but we hope to learn more in a little while, and we promise to faithfully keep him informed of our discoveries. May the reader, if he has a better view than we, penetrate his gaze under the lace of this blouse, and decide in good conscience whether the contour is too much or too little pronounced. But we warn him that the curtains are drawn and that only a twilight ill-suited to these sorts of investigations reigns in the room.) (1: 334)
But if the narrator coyly writes shadows into his scene to force the reader to read on to discover Maupin's identity, Gautier will also highlight the difficulty of interpreting the human body in a fashion akin to earlier novels about doubtful sex such as Latouche's Fragoletta, and to medical case studies. (30) The "warning" or "introduction," as "avertissement" can sometimes mean, foreshadows the end of the novel in its refusal to reveal the sexual identity of our protagonist.
Even though the reader now knows the secret identity of Theodore, the mystery persists for Rosette and d'Albert, and the latter, especially, waits in torment, vacillating between the belief that the man he loves must be truly a woman, and the knowledge that even "si je venais a savoir avec certitude que Theodore n'est pas une femme, helas! Je ne sais point si je ne l'aimerais pas encore" (If I came to know with certainty that Theodore is not a woman, alas! I don't know at all whether I would not still love him) (1: 381). Right up until the second to last page of the novel, d'Albert is not sure if Theodore is a woman at all (1: 511). Here lies another of Gautier's innovations. Not only does Maupin take over the role of doctor; Gautier displaces the familiar label of monster from the hermaphroditic, cross-dressing main character onto d'Albert. (31) Finding himself sexually attracted to Theodore, d'Albert is forced to confront his own inner monster by acknowledging that the apparent young man represents his ideal incarnate. As Kari Weil finely puts it, Maupin is the "mirror to the sexual ambivalence he must recognize in himself" (137). Weil has intuited a hallmark of representations of androgyny that was originally introduced by Latouche. Unlike d'Albert, however, Latouche's male protagonist remains unable to evolve as a character and is equally blind to his own attraction to androgyny.
All the hermaphrodite novels underscore the difficulty of interpreting the naked body, and they often reference one another in an intertextual web. Gautier, for example, alludes to the multilayered ambiguities of the final scene of Latouche's Fragoletta in Mademoiselle de Maupin. In Gautier's rendition, Rosette unbuttons the blouse of Isnabel, Theodore's young page, in an attempt to revive him after a riding accident (1: 355). Discovering a "fine pair" of adolescent breasts on the young Isnabel, Rosette immediately assumes that the young girl is Theodore's lover rather than applying her discovery to a reevaluation of the mysterious Theodore: instead of imagining that Theodore's own bosom might reserve a similar surprise, the scorned lover apparently berates Theodore for the impropriety of parading "his" young lover around with him. Again, interpreting the body reveals as much about the interpreter as the body under scrutiny. Here we learn of Rosette's unfounded jealousy and vivid imagination rather than about the "true" identity of Isnabel. (Isnabel is not Theodore's lover; she is a child rescued from a would-be pedophile.) Moreover, the ensuing fight between Theodore and Rosette provides further caution about the dangers of interpretation. The reader witnesses their disagreement from afar and cannot listen in, but Theodore seems shamed, since he "changea plusieurs fois de couleur pendant le recit de Rosette" (changed color several times throughout Rosette's story) (1: 456). While Rosette might interpret Theodore's blushing cheeks as confirmation of her fears about Isnabel, Theodore may just as likely feel embarrassment or fear because of how close Rosette is to discovering "her" secret identity. Because Gautier credits Latouche's Fragoletta as the inspiration for his novel, there can be no doubt that he intends this scene as an homage and that he thereby voluntarily inscribes a place for Mademoiselle de Maupin in a long line of doubtful sex novels. What is most fascinating about this choice is that although Maupin is the only character who is not a physiological hermaphrodite but a woman disguised as a man, Gautier nevertheless refuses to assign his heroine a "true sex." (32) Instead, Maupin famously describes herself as a member of the "third sex":
Ni l'un ni l'autre de ces deux sexes n'est le mien; je n'ai ni la soumission imbecile, ni la timidite, ni les petitesses de la femme; je n'ai pas les vices des hommes, leur degoutante crapule et leurs penchants brutaux:--je suis d'un troisieme sexe a part qui n'a pas encore de nom: au-dessus ou au-dessous, plus defectueux ou superieur: j'ai le corps et l'ame d'une femme, l'esprit et la force d'un homme, et j'ai trop ou pas assez de l'un et de l'autre pour me pouvoir accoupler avec l'un d'eux. (Neither one nor the other of these two sexes is my own; I have neither the foolish submissiveness, nor the timidity, nor the pettiness of women. I do not have the vices of men either, their disgusting, vile nature and their brutal tendencies:--I am of a third sex altogether that does not yet have a name; higher or lower than them, inferior or superior. I have the body and the soul of a woman, the mind and the strength of a man, and I have too much or not enough of the one or the other to be able to pair up with either.) (1: 505)
Like other literary hermaphrodites, Maupin shares the inability to fully integrate into society. (33) Like Badre, she does not feel that her clothing reflects her identity. Although her body is not the obstacle, she disavows belonging to either sex. For Maupin, this voluntary androgyny is a conscious choice rather than a forced punishment. In her decidedly pessimistic worldview, both sexes are fraught with undesirable flaws such that choosing exile from this world of binaries amounts to a conscious rebellion and the only tolerable solution. Understanding Mademoiselle de Maupin's place among the doubtful sex novels reveals the stakes of Gautier's initially surprising refusal to deny his readers the satisfaction of fully revealing her "true sex." (34) If Latouche took the first step by dissociating sexual and bodily identity in Fragoletta, Gautier takes the next by questioning the social and cultural underpinnings of binary sex.
Seen in this light, Gautier's refusal to recount Theodore/Rosalinde's final night might also constitute an allusion to Latouche's text. This scene marks the novel's famous culmination when Maupin consummates her love with d'Albert and then slips into Rosette's room and spends the rest of it with her. Just as Latouche never fully unveils Fragoletta's body, Gautier's narrator never gains access to what happened in Rosette's bed: "Ce qu'elle y dit, ce qu'elle y fit, je n'ai jamais pu le savoir [...] j'ai fait la-dessus mille conjectures, toutes plus deraisonnables les unes que les autres, et si saugrenues que je n'ose veritablement les ecrire, meme dans le style le plus honnetement periphrase" (What she said and did there, I never could figure out [...] I have made a thousand conjectures on the subject, each more preposterous than the one before, and so outrageous that I really do not dare to set them down on paper, even with the most respectable, euphemistic style) (1: 372). Of course, this titillating rhetorical strategy offers a convenient way to insinuate lesbianism without getting into trouble for describing it too clearly. (35) But in order to do so, the narrator must simultaneously feign a kind of authorial impotence, which transfers all the power of plot making to his fictional character, Mademoiselle de Maupin. (36) To the end, then, Maupin remains faithful to her initial project of experimentation and discovery. The nineteenth-century confines of literary decorum dictate, however, that the reader be denied her insights. Gautier's rehearsal of the unattainability of bodily truth in Mademoiselle de Maupin echoes Latouche's novel. Gautier has simply transferred the corporeal dilemma to an aesthetic one. If Madeleine de Maupin cannot wake up next to d'Albert, it is not because her love represents some kind of "monstrosity" by nineteenth-century standards, as was the case in Fragoletta, but because to be with him more than the one night would be to wreck the illusion of perfection she exudes. This is an extension of the often-repeated line from the novel's preface, "Il n'y a de vraiment beau que ce qui ne peut servir a rien; tout ce qui est utile est laid" (There is really nothing beautiful unless it can serve for nothing; everything that is useful is ugly) (54). (37)
Despite the diversity of their techniques, all the doubtful sex novels share a description of the human body that resists full interpretation. Barthes's hermeneutic code, which displaces revelation to motivate further reading, remains incompletely resolved at the denouement. Just when it seems that "true sex" has at last been revealed (when Fragoletta's blouse is unbuttoned, Mademoiselle de Maupin spends her last night with d'Albert, or Seraphita ascends to the heavens), that very moment ends up prolonging the mystery of their identities. In its own way, each novel suggests that binary sex is unable to circumscribe bodily diversity. Yet, lest we assign too revolutionary and subversive a status to our novelists, it is important to remember that they also announce that deviant identities have no place in this world: Maupin absconds in the night; Fragoletta dies by the sword; Seraphita rejoins heaven. Even Clementine, the only androgyne allowed to live happily ever after, still must do so in complete obscurity, forgotten to the world.
If, as Peter Brooks argues, narrative is the dominant nineteenth-century mode of representation and explanation, then novels whose plots rely on ambiguous sex to keep us reading reflect not only our desire as readers to progress toward meaning but also our need as members of a community for models to help us work through problems of gender and sexuality. (38) Like the plethora of plots surrounding doubtful sex, the ubiquitous literary figure of the hermaphrodite speaks to a greater social need to create strategies for difficult or unclear cases of sexual identity. Only by rereading canonical literature in the context of overlooked or popular fiction can we come to appreciate the full significance of classic literary texts. Fragoletta enables us to decipher the significance of the hermeneutic code's unresolved nature in Mademoiselle de Maupin. And yet, because of the enduring critical belief in an ahistorical "myth of androgyny" that is unrelated to physiological hermaphrodism, this parallel has remained uninvestigated for too long. Without suggesting that Latouche is a neglected literary genius who should take his rightful place alongside Gautier, he nevertheless teaches us something about the illegibility of bodies that is crucially important for understanding what is at stake in Mademoiselle de Maupin's articulation of a third sex. Gautier's appropriation of medical discourse reveals the inability of that discourse to fully describe the androgynous body while calling into question the very meaning of monstrosity. Throughout nineteenth-century French literature, the mystery of doubtful sex teaches us as well that sexual economy remains everywhere closely tied to textual economy so that reading the one becomes inextricable from deciphering the other.
San Francisco State University
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(1.) Claims Anatole France: "Ignorez-vous que le marbre de l'Hermaphrodite du Louvre a ete use par les caresses des visiteurs, et que l'administration des musees a du proteger par une barriere cette figure monstrueuse et charmante?" (Did you not know that the Louvre Hermaphrodite's marble was worn out by visitors' caresses, and that the administration of museums had to protect this monstrous and charming figure with a barrier?) (Balzac, prince du mal; quoted in Graille 9). Translations are my own unless otherwise noted. I use the nineteenth-century word hermaphrodite to mark my study as one of a past historical moment. Today, the term intersex is used. Contemporary scholars have sometimes drawn a tempting, if somewhat artificial, boundary between "androgyny" and "hermaphrodism," often differentiating between an idealized androgyne and a monstrous or anatomical hermaphrodite. For Tracy Hargreaves, "the visibility, the material fact of the body," is what is most at stake in the distinction between the androgyne and the hermaphrodite; however, medical discourse frequently describes the hermaphroditic body as androgynous--a term also used, I show, to describe the effect produced by cross-dressing, whether or not the body itself is hermaphroditic (6). Moreover, nineteenth-century literature rarely fully unveils the body.
(2.) Raymond Giraud writes that Gautier "haunted" the Louvre in order to contemplate the statue (173).
(3.) For Marie Delcourt and Mircea Eliade, the hermaphrodite is a "myth" forming part of our "universal" imagination that bears almost no relation to living hermaphrodites. A.J.L. Busst examines literary representations of androgyny, but because he considers neither popular sources nor medical case studies, he concludes that the two are unrelated (4). Critics examining Mademoiselle de Maupin have been more attentive to historical and cultural context. See, for example, Pierre Albouy, Frederic Monneyron, and Kari Weil. The relationship between medical representations of hermaphrodism and Gautier's novel, however, remains unexplored.
(4.) Critics have incorrectly identified Fragoletta as the first nineteenth-century novel about a physiological hermaphrodite, since Cuisin's novel Clementine was published almost a decade earlier. See Smith 81, Crouzet 25, Pelckmans 13, Weil 133, and Monneyron 56. While Cuisin's influence is difficult to ascertain, Latouche's legacy is undeniable, and for this reason, Fragoletta merits its reputation as the first major French nineteenth-century novel with a hermaphrodite protagonist.
(5.) Weil offers an incisive analysis of the "myth of the androgyne" as it relates to Gautier's notion of aesthetics and romanticism (esp. 113-42). For Nigel Smith, the theme of androgyny is inseparable from the romantic aesthetic, which, although true for some works, fails to fully account for the far-reaching nature of the theme.
(6.) Rothfield investigates the relationship between "realist narrative" and "medical narrative." Here, I examine narrative as it relates to doubtful sex rather than theorizing it in relation to a single genre.
(7.) For an expert analysis of the science of seeing in nineteenth-century France and its relationship to literature of the time, see Goulet.
(8.) For an analysis of nineteenth-century practices concerning doubtful sex, see Dreger for a comparison of British and French case histories of hermaphrodism, and Mak for a comparison of mostly German and French case histories. Alice Domurat Dreger argues that, despite an increasingly strict definition of hermaphrodism, considerable disagreement remained about which sex to assign patients on a case-by-case basis. More recently, Geertje Mak has revealed an increasingly nuanced history of hermaphrodism by turning away from doctors' opinions about "true sex" and toward their practices in determining cases of doubtful sex.
(9.) For an expert analysis of the relationship between case histories and fiction in Victorian England, see Kennedy.
(10.) Many case studies predating Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire's treatise in the 1830s support this claim. See, for example, Moreau 243 and De Riez 1798: 298. While cases from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century generally suggest that hermaphrodism does not exist, Saint-Hilaire's work marks a shift in medical consensus (see note 12). Alexandre Lacassagne, for example, in Les Actes de l'etat civil calls for a modification of the civil code to reflect doubtful sex.
(11.) See Linton.
(12.) Saint-Hilaire (son of Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, to whom Balzac's Pere Goriot is dedicated) became the reigning authority on hermaphrodism in the 1830s with the publication of his magnum opus, L'Histoire generale et particuliere des anomalies de l'organisation chez l'homme et les animaux (1832-37). In an 1837 article, he avers, "La determination du sexe d'un hermaphrodite est presque toujours tres difficile, et souvent meme elle est absolument impossible" (The sex determination of a hermaphrodite is nearly always very difficult, and often even absolutely impossible) (433). Since individuals existed who possessed neither sex, according to Saint-Hilaire, later experts called for a revision of the civil code to include a neuter sex category.
(13.) The opening sentence of Dany's account reads: "Badre naquit en 1806, a Mezieres, de parents peu fortunes. Les personnes chargees de faire constater sa naissance furent induites en erreur par la disposition de ses organes genitaux, et le nouveau-ne, considere comme appartenant au sexe feminin, recut le nom Josephine" (Badre was born in 1806, in Mezieres, to poor parents. Those charged with registering the birth were led into error by the conformation of the genital organs, and the newborn, considered to belong to the female sex, received the name Josephine) (461). Badre had earlier been examined by Dr. Legros (in 1830, the same year that Balzac's Sarrazine appeared). Legros describes Badre's adolescence with comparable novelistic verve: "Prive d'education et n'etant retenu par aucun frein, il se fit bientot un jeu de sa conformation, qui devint la curiosite de son pays. Bientot les garcons se presenterent a leur tour, offrirent leurs hommages, c'est-a-dire a boire, et facilement obtinrent les faveurs de Josephine Badre; c'etait sans plaisir et le plus souvent avec douleur pour elle" (deprived of an education and unrestrained, he soon began to make a game out of his conformation, which became the curiosity of his homeland. Soon the boys presented themselves to him in their turn, offering hommages, that is to say drinks, and easily obtained favors from Josephine Badre; it was without pleasure and most often with pain for her) (273).
(14.) See Legros and Dany.
(15.) Hyacinthe-Joseph Alexandre ("Henri") de Latouche (1785-1851) was a poet, novelist, and newspaperman more often remembered for his famous friends and for his edition of Andre Chenier's poetry than for his own literary corpus.
(16.) Segu details the contemporary criticism of Fragoletta, including articles in La Revue de Paris, Le Globe, and Le Figaro in 1829. See Segu 340-42.
(17.) Michel Crouzet compiles an exhaustive list of all the authors mentioning Fragoletta (25-26).
(18.) Crouzet warns against considering Latouche a little-known genius and Fragoletta a forgotten "masterpiece" (27).
(19.) We can identify the sculpture Latouche describes with certainty as the "Louvre hermaphrodite," since he alludes to the cushion Bernini fashioned for it in 1619 at the behest of Cardinal Scipione Borghese (1: 87).
(20.) Monneyron offers a radically different interpretation: "La gene de Camille devant l'hermaphrodite de marbre est celle d'un etre qui voit idealisee sa propre anomalie" (Camille's discomfort in front of the marble hermaphrodite is that of a being who sees her own anomaly idealized) (57). To me, Camille's discomfort derives from d'Hauteville's derision of a body like hers rather than any shame that such a body could be presented as beautiful.
(21.) Monneyron suggests that Latouche must have read an encyclopedia article recounting the brutal historical treatment of hermaphrodites (53). Jaucourt's article also suggests the invariable sterility of hermaphrodites, which helps explain some of Fragoletta's enigmatic utterances. For example: "Moi, j'ai la honte a offrir pour l'impossible amour que je demande; la honte! l'inanite, les dangers steriles, voila la dot que j'apporte et le sort que je propose: defendez-vous de moi!" (Myself, I am ashamed to offer the impossible love that I am asking for; for shame! The inanity, the sterile dangers, this is the dowry that I bring and the fate that I offer: defend yourself against me!) (2: 182). For an excellent analysis of impotence as it relates to romanticism, see Waller.
(22.) Until this moment of existential crisis, I have intentionally referred to Camille using the feminine pronoun she because she had not called this identity into question. After the museum scene, however, Camille assumes a male identity and s/he self-identifies as an individual who is neither wholly female nor wholly male. For this reason, I signal Camille/Fragoletta/Philippe's unstable sexual identity through the use of combined masculine and feminine pronouns.
(23.) Which is precisely how Crouzet interprets this scene (28).
(24.) According to Emile Benveniste, the word monster comes from the Latin monstrare (meaning to show, but also to accuse or condemn) and is related to monere, "to warn" (256-57).
(25.) I believe that Camille refers to herself as a female in this letter because she is sending it to d'Hauteville, who has already made manifest in the museum scene that he is too narrow-minded to otherwise recognize her.
(26.) One of the five codes that enable the narrative's polyvalence according to Barthes, the hermeneutic code is an enigma that only further reading can resolve: "Decidons d'appeler code hermeneutique [...] l'ensemble des unites qui ont pour fonction d'articuler, de diverses manieres, une question, sa reponse et les accidents varies qui peuvent ou preparer la question ou retarder la reponse: ou encore, de formuler une enigme et d'amener son dechiffrement" (Let's call the hermeneutic code all of the elements that have the function of articulating, in multiple ways, a question, its answer, and the various accidents that can either prepare the question or delay its answer: or rather, to formulate an enigma and bring about its decipherment) (S/Z 24-25). Often, stresses Barthes, the reader's desire to solve the enigma is partially frustrated by the text.
(27.) Crouzet also mentions Barthes in his discussion of the impossibility of interpreting Fragoletta (34). For Crouzet, what renders the novel impossible to interpret is precisely its androgyny, because he does not consider the possibility of physiological hermaphrodism that can and does exist (34). I agree with Crouzet that Fragoletta's nudity cannot be unveiled, but I believe the sculpture scene illustrates precisely the moment of encounter between a timeless myth of androgyny (embodied by the sculpture) and a hermaphroditic character who also feels exiled from her own historical moment because her body alienates her from normative sexuality.
(28.) See, for example, case studies by Cruveilhier and Thore in which autopsy contradicted previous clinical examinations.
(29.) Deborah Lambert shows that Barthes's text reifies nineteenth-century sexual stereotypes that the text of the novel itself undermines with a "reconciling androgynous vision" (170).
(30.) Gaston d'Hailly's 1885 novel, L'Hermaphrodite, references Gautier's novel repeatedly. Camille speaks "d'une voix contralto pleine" (in a full contralto voice), alluding to Gautier's poem, and travels with a loyal companion, just like Theodore (59). Camille also harks back to Balzac's Seraphita, who appeared as both male and female perfection to Minna and Alfred, respectively (422).
(31.) D'Albert constantly laments his "amour monstrueux" (monstrous love) (1: 426). See also 1: 361-62.
(32.) In this I disagree with Jean-Marie Roulin, who claims that "au fond, l'androgyne n'existe pas: Theodore Rosalinde ne l'est que dans le chapitre XI; dans les chapitres suivants, elle sera femme au sens le plus charnel du mot" (Deep down, the androgyne does not exist: Theodore Rosalinde only exists in chapter XI; in the following chapters, she is a woman in the most corporeal sense of the word) (40). On the contrary, d'Albert is not sure whether Theodore is a woman throughout the novel--scarcely until she beds him. In her letters, Maupin often explains how she is not like a woman and how dressing as a man makes her feel like she is one. Albouy also claims that "Madeleine de Maupin n'est ni un hermaphrodite ni un androgyne; c'est une femme travestie, et une femme dont la feminite est singulierement plus indiquee et soulignee que l'ambiguite qui aurait du etre son trait principal" (Madeleine de Maupin is neither a hermaphrodite nor an androgyne; she is a woman in drag, and a woman whose femininity is considerably more indicated and highlighted than the ambiguity that should have been her chief characteristic) (601). But this overlooks Maupin's self-descriptions as a creature outside of binary sex. Laure Murat argues that this outside status reveals the fragility of binary sex: "Mademoiselle de Maupin incarne en realite--comme Gautier y insiste--le type parfait du hors sexe" (Mademoiselle de Maupin really embodies--and Gautier insists on it--the perfect type of one who is outside of sex) (85). In this, he anticipates Judith Butler's notion of gender performativity, continues Murat (86-87). Nathaniel Wing had earlier shown the "performative" nature of gender in the novel, using both Butler's terminology and Derrida's writings on Austin (32).
(33.) Of course, Clementine does suddenly integrate into society at the end of the novel despite the initial prognosis of the impossibility of a happy ending, apparently owing to the acquisition of wealth and title.
(34.) This helps the reader understand why Theodore/Madeleine's sexuality "escapes the closure of the text," in Wing's formulation (26).
(35.) Many critics have observed that Theodore/Madeleine has no place left in this world. See, for example, Mielly 58.
(36.) As Weil remarks, this gesture "subverts both narrative and social expectations" (139).
(37.) On page 54 of the 1973 folio edition.
(38.) In Reading for the Plot, Brooks writes:
Narrative as a dominant mode of representation and explanation comes to the fore [...] with the advent of Romanticism and its predominantly historical imagination: the making and the interpretation of narrative plots assumes a centrality and importance in literature, and in life, that they did not have earlier, no doubt because of a large movement of human societies out from under the mantle of sacred myth into the modern world where men and institutions are more and more defined by their shape in time. (xii)
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|Author:||Linton, Anne E.|
|Publication:||The Romanic Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2014|
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