Rachilde's L'Heure sexuelle: Toward a Literature fin-de-sexe

Supported by Cesare Lombroso's medical argument, a thesis subsequently diffused by Max Nordau in his treatise Degeneration, fin-de-siècle writers tended to paint woman as a monster of depravity, as the gynander who dominates the emasculated male esthete. In her 1898 novel L'Heure Sexuelle, Rachilde satirizes these stereotypical gender roles, of male poets victimized by their predatory partners, women guilty of bestiality and prostitution. Countering Maurice Barrès's characterization of Rachilde as a corrupted sylph, Rachilde submits a work that neither embraces a feminist position nor dignifies the dismissive opinions of her male critics. Rather, her novel is an argument for gender-neutral discourse, exemplifying what her friend Jean Lorrain called a literature "fin de sexe." (RZ)
Ziegler, Robert
Volume 1994-1995 Fall-Winter; 23(1-2): 194-205