Turning Tricks, Turning the Tables: Plotting the Brasserie à femmes in Tabarant’s Virus d’amour

This article examines the space of the brasserie à femmes, a female-staffed beer hall and house of clandestine prostitution where the servers sell stories as a supplement to beer and sex, in Adolphe Tabarant’s forgotten naturalist novel Virus d’amour (1886). Simultaneously fueling novelistic and sexual desire in fin-de-siècle Paris’s aimless bachelors, the brasserie prostitute turns the Balzacian arriviste plot on its head by appropriating the art of writerly tease--by knowing how to (in the words of Huysmans) “make them wait.” Inscribing her client into narrative and thus positioning herself as author, the fille de brasserie troubles her own textual inscription, complicating authorial mastery of both the prostitute and the city.

Jessica Tanner
Volume 2013 (41.3-4)