The Quest for Fictionality: Prostitution and Metatextuality in Rachilde’s Monsieur Vénus

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Abstract

This article considers the theme of prostitution in the decadent writings of the fin-de-siecle French author, Rachilde. It proposes that an analysis of this critically-neglected trope of her work reveals new connections between the erotics and aesthetics of her fiction. As a vector for considering tensions between fantasy and truth, and illusion and reality, prostitution, in Rachilde's texts, invites us to reflect on two of the most common cultural manifestations of decadence: sexual non-conformism and the cult of artifice. The article focuses in particular on the (male) prostitute-body of Monsieur Venus, arguing that, in its transcendence of nature, reality and utilitarian purpose, it is elevated to the status of art in Rachilde's fictional world.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalModern Languages Open
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2015

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