Octave Uzanne’s L’Éventail: a literary mythology of the fan

Erin E. Edgington

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In the last half of the nineteenth century, the folding fan was phenomenally popular in France. The accessory was a ubiquitous component of women’s dress, yet it also attracted the attention of some prominent collectors and Orientalists as well as acquiring an importance in the art and literature of the period. In many plastic works and literary texts devoted to it, the fan retains a link with femininity, and particularly with feminine sexuality, even as its identity as an art object is emphasized. Octave Uzanne’s L’Éventail (1882), a self-professed literary history of the fan, exemplifies this dualistic treatment as it presents the fan both as a titillating intimate companion of women and as a literary and (although to a lesser extent) art historical subject. This article focuses on Uzanne’s treatment of the fan’s early history in the Far and Middle East. By comparing his text with other contemporary histories of the fan, it demonstrates that the “history” of the accessory may be more accurately described as a mythology.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)663-675
    Number of pages13
    Issue number4
    Early online date12 Mar 2013
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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