From the Marquis de Sade’s libertine sodomites to Jean Genet’s gay Parisian subculture of saintly Queens, the French literary canon has left an indelible mark on how we in America narrate and conceptualize same-sex desire. So, it may come as a surprise to some when François Cusset contends in The Inverted Gaze (Arsenal Pulp Press) that French literary criticism has largely ignored the queer possibilities of its own canon and that it could learn a thing or two from the American academy. Cusset, a professor of American studies at The University of Paris, acknowledges that the French literary tradition has had no shortage of famous gay and lesbian characters and authors, but argues that the homoerotic tension and defiance of the heteronormative status quo that guides the plot and complicates the characters of so many French classics have gone largely unnoticed.

(Full review available at Lambda Literary)

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