By Tracy Hargreaves
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Extra resources for Androgyny in Modern Literature
The autobiography of this androgyne is (initially at least) presented as the interior, mobile life of the inanimate sculpture, its cool perfection re-scripted as unspiritual and carnal. Lind adapts current epistemologies: sexology and evolutionary theory are mapped onto classical mythology and sculpture, and he reanimates them within a narrative of his own life that, to Herzog’s contempt (and Lind’s credit), he refuses to feel shamed by. Lind is selective with medical theories that give his narrative some scientific credibility before elaborating on his sexual adventures as a passive homosexual, a male-tofemale transvestite, and a partial transsexual (his chapters have a new sub-heading on every page, ‘I am Held up on Broadway’, ‘Glimpse into Hell’s Kitchen at Night’, ‘An Evening in a Squad Room’, ‘Ethics of My Conduct’, ‘I Am Court-martialled’).
Raittolbe, the ex-hussar, is the avatar of normative heterosexual masculinity whose function is to realign manliness with masculinity and restore morality. Central to the text, though, is the relationship between the aristocratic Raoule de Vénérande and Jacques Silvert, an effeminate artisan who makes artificial flowers for a living until he meets Raoule. Raoule is instantly captivated by him and establishes him in a new studio. One evening, as Raoule is on her way to a rendezvous with Raittolbe, she is seized with a compulsion to visit Jacques as ‘the body that was no longer hers had felt revulsion’ (p.
Raoule follows an undeveloped trajectory that takes her from an apparently heterosexual and feminine woman, poised to begin an affair with de Raittolbe, to a woman attracted to a feminine man, to a woman who inhabits a sadistic masculinity defined by her ability to keep the docile Jacques submissive and grateful (in what is possibly a satiric comment on the fate of femininity as it might be defined in hetero-normative relations). What Monsieur Vénus offers is a reverse discourse of masochistic female femininity and sadistic male masculinity, casting the male body as weak and receptive and the female body as strong and active.
Androgyny in Modern Literature by Tracy Hargreaves