SomeoneThe Pragmatics of Misfit Sexualities, from Colette to Hervé Guibert

SomeoneThe Pragmatics of Misfit Sexualities, from Colette to Hervé Guibert

Michael Lucey

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226606187

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book explores a set of works from modern French literature that are interested in same-sex sexualities, but versions of those sexualities that fail to correspond to mainstream gay and lesbian identities in a variety of different ways that can be difficult to notice or talk about. The book’s seven chapters trace the introduction of the topic of non-mainstream or misfit sexualities into the French literary field. Writers interested in this topic generate representations of occasions of language use that display a practical, implicit knowledge of misfit sexual forms or that work to recreate or modify such knowledge. For certain authors, this representational work produces a kind of technical reflection on the semiotic characteristics upon which such verbal exchanges rely. In a number of examples treated in the book, the traces of misfit sexualities are shown to exist in the spaces between texts. Works that do not necessarily represent a given misfit sexuality can nonetheless, when viewed as part of a carefully reconstructed socio-textual array, be seen as contributing to the act of registering its existence. While exploring the presence of misfit sexualities in French literature between roughly 1930 and 1990, the book offers a model of a pragmatic cultural analysis of the way literary works participate in an aspect of sexual culture that often escapes explicit attention. It also illustrates the literary uses of language that have been developed by the works studied as they explore the ways evanescent sexual forms exist socially and in language.