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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 8 Conclusion - The Work of Éric Jourdan: Violence, Masculinity, Sexuality


Chapter 8 Conclusion – The Work of Éric Jourdan: Violence, Masculinity, Sexuality It is interesting that the last work discussed in the previous chapter should be Le Garçon et le diable. As noted above, Le Garçon et le diable is a very early work, written in 1948, but not published until 2011. In a sense, then, Le Garçon et le diable spans nearly all of its author’s creative life. Secondly and relatedly, Le Garçon et le diable picks up on one of the constants of Jourdan: resistance, revolt and subversion. As Max Milner concludes in his study of the literary representations of the devil: ‘Exprimant l’absolu de la négation, il ne peut y avoir de représentations littéraires que dans une époque qui accorde à la négation une valeur esthétique. […] Impossible de l’évoquer sans mettre quelque chose ou quelqu’un en question ou en accusation.’1 However playful and humorous, Jourdan’s devil(s) – and they include nearly all of his young perverse, contestatory ‘heroes’ from ‘les mauvais anges’ to Alcibiades – they remain forever in revolt, even against themselves. For as Milner continues: ‘Lui-même [le diable] n’échappe pas au doute qu’il fait peser sur toute chose. Qu’il af firme trop fortement son existence, ou ses droits, et déjà il travaille pour l’Autre, pour Dieu, car par la brèche que fait une vérité, il faut que la Vérité passe tout entière.’2 Given that (diabolical) revolt is a constant of Jourdan’s...

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