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From Bad Boys to New Men?

Masculinity, Sexuality and Violence in the Work of Éric Jourdan

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Owen Heathcote

This book is the first critical survey of the work of Éric Jourdan. Jourdan first came to public attention as a schoolboy in 1955, when he published Les Mauvais anges, a sulphorous novel of adolescent male-to-male love, which was banned by the censors in 1956 and again in 1974. It did not officially appear until 1984. Despite the ban, and despite ongoing censorship, Jourdan continues to write novels, short stories and plays. His many books include the ‘trilogy’ Charité, Révolte and Sang, and other equally uninhibited texts such as Le Garçon de joie, Aux gémonies and Le Jeune soldat. More recent publications include short stories, historical novels ( Sans lois ni dieux, Lieutenant Darmancour) and the more autobiographical text Trois cœurs.
This study charts Jourdan’s writing career from Les Mauvais anges to the present day, situating his work in the context of writers from Peyrefitte and Montherlant to Guibert, Dustan and Guyotat. The analysis concentrates on three main themes: boyhood and masculinity; sex and (homo)sexuality; and violence and death. Throughout, a number of questions are paramount. What is the connection between masculinity and violence? How does Jourdan reconcile joie de vivre with pain and punishment? Do his young male protagonists progress from bad boys to new men? In what ways can his texts be seen as homoerotic, homosexual, gay or queer? What, ultimately, is the connection between sex, sexuality and writing in Jourdan?
The book includes detailed bibliographies of Jourdan’s works and, for the first time since its original, controversial publication in Arcadie, his short story ‘Le Troisième but’.

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CHAPTER 2 Éric Jourdan’s Bad Boys: Les Mauvais anges

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Les Mauvais anges: A First Novel Although Les Mauvais anges is Éric Jourdan’s first published novel, it remains, arguably, his most well-known and perhaps most well-read. This is no doubt at least partly because of its chequered publishing history, which will be examined in a later section of this chapter, but also because of its subject matter: the highly erotic sexual passion between two school boys, aged seventeen at the time of the narrative but whose friendship dates back even earlier, to when they were thirteen and thus pre-adolescents.1 Before moving on to the publication history of Les Mauvais anges, to its significance in terms of contemporaneous literature of ‘the boy’ and to its importance for the representation of sexuality, it will, therefore, be useful to sketch out the plot of the novel and the nature of its two main characters: Pierre and Gérard.2 The novel does, indeed, divide into two clear parts, a narrative written by Pierre followed by that of his school-friend, cousin and lover, Gérard. Combining accounts of their current present with revealing f lashbacks, Pierre shows how his intimacy with Gérard developed from early school days and, particularly, from the time when, following the deaths of both their mothers, their two fathers combined households in a large 1 The ages of the protagonists do in fact vary and not just, it would seem, because of the frequent f lashbacks in the text. At one stage, for example, Gérard writes: ‘Je venais d’avoir...

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