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From Bad Boys to New Men?

Masculinity, Sexuality and Violence in the Work of Éric Jourdan


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 3 Man Hunts: The ‘Trilogy’: Charité, Révolte, Sang


Charité (1985) Although Charité, the first novel of what can be called Éric Jourdan’s tril- ogy (Charité, Révolte, Sang) was begun in 1959, other texts preceded it in his writing career after Les Mauvais anges.1 Since the majority of texts written previous to 1959 were not however published until after Charité first appeared in 1985, and since the trilogy has become a key component of Jourdan’s production, it may be appropriate to consider it here. Its impor- tance is signalled not just by the number of editions the texts have traversed but by the fact that Jourdan is still completing it at the current time, with a fourth, final volume to turn the trilogy into a tetralogy and thus make the whole series one of the most important features of his long and productive career.2 At the same time, since Charité, Révolte and Sang were written whilst Les Mauvais anges was as yet unavailable, interesting comparisons can be made between the banned novel and those still being written. Given the importance of Charité, Révolte and Sang in Jourdan’s output, it will, moreover, be helpful to discuss the works individually before drawing the threads together in an overall assessment. One of the first and most striking dif ferences between Les Mauvais anges and Charité is that, unlike Les Mauvais anges, Charité has not two 1 See his bibliography at the beginning of this volume. The dates given for Jourdan’s texts are, where possible, those of the first published...

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