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Unspeakable Writing: Jean Lorrain's Monsieur de Phocas

Unspeakable Writing: Jean Lorrain's Monsieur de Phocas Michael du Plessis unspeakables of the Oscar Wilde sort E. M. Forster, Maurice Why Speak of Lorrain Today? It is difficult, even today, to speak of Jean Lorrain without embarrassment. Those aspects of his life and works that appeared scandalous to his contemporaries, such as his openness about his homosexuality, his ostentation of any and all kinds of perversity, and his notorious bad taste, may seem to invite rather than repel current critical interest.1 Nevertheless, even for a position that has revalued artifice, sentimentality, and "vice," Lorrain's writing may prove to be unpalatable: his clamorous antisemitism, his vociferousness as an anti-Dreyfusard, his insistent misogyny, his approval of colonialism, and his concomitant reveling in the worst forms of late nineteenth-century Orientalism are almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of a permanent revaluation of Lorrain as a "good" writer. Why write of Lorrain at all then? Some previous attempts to revive interest in his work sanitizes it by presenting it as quaint: so, Philippe Jullian's biography, Jean Lorrain ou le satiricon 1900, admirable as it is, tends to make Lorrain seem ready for a nostalgic and neutralized mass consumption, rather like the art nouveau that Lorrain himself relished. Other influential http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French Forum University of Nebraska Press

Unspeakable Writing: Jean Lorrain's Monsieur de Phocas

French Forum , Volume 27 (2) – Feb 13, 2002

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by French Forum, Inc.
ISSN
1534-1836
Publisher site
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Abstract

Michael du Plessis unspeakables of the Oscar Wilde sort E. M. Forster, Maurice Why Speak of Lorrain Today? It is difficult, even today, to speak of Jean Lorrain without embarrassment. Those aspects of his life and works that appeared scandalous to his contemporaries, such as his openness about his homosexuality, his ostentation of any and all kinds of perversity, and his notorious bad taste, may seem to invite rather than repel current critical interest.1 Nevertheless, even for a position that has revalued artifice, sentimentality, and "vice," Lorrain's writing may prove to be unpalatable: his clamorous antisemitism, his vociferousness as an anti-Dreyfusard, his insistent misogyny, his approval of colonialism, and his concomitant reveling in the worst forms of late nineteenth-century Orientalism are almost insurmountable obstacles in the way of a permanent revaluation of Lorrain as a "good" writer. Why write of Lorrain at all then? Some previous attempts to revive interest in his work sanitizes it by presenting it as quaint: so, Philippe Jullian's biography, Jean Lorrain ou le satiricon 1900, admirable as it is, tends to make Lorrain seem ready for a nostalgic and neutralized mass consumption, rather like the art nouveau that Lorrain himself relished. Other influential

Journal

French ForumUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Feb 13, 2002

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