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Feminin /masculin: Ordres et desordres du corps dans l'oeuvre de Marguerite Yourcenar

Lylian Y Bourgois, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The universe of Marguerite Yourcenar is primarily masculine and the opposition between masculine and female is capital. Men dominate or initiate the action whereas women are supporting characters or negative.^ The women often appear as a deadly element which makes contemptible whatever they touch, making themselves by rebound conspicuous human beings, whether it is on the level of their intellect, their femininity, maternity or female sexuality, usually assimilated to prostitution. Prostitution thus crystallizes the attraction and the rejection of the female body.^ Although the feminine tries to get rid of this dirtiness and this opposition, the combat is impossible and the only exit is to dissolve, to disappear or to become masculine. ^ On the contrary, men appear as positive characters. Fathers have filiations which mothers are unable to have, even if this bond is rather a chosen bond, more intellectual than biological.^ Homosexuality is a sexuality only fallen to men and makes it possible for them to live without women and to avoid a sexuation. Marguerite Yourcenar had nevertheless to develop a new vocabulary to approach this topic that was still a taboo. Homosexuality in the works of Marguerite Yourcenar is however ambiguous and hides a double and transgressive discourse. Because of this sexuality, men will have to find a different manner to perpetuate through transforming, as the feminine had done it.^ The need for men to perpetuate themselves without sexuation is actually linked to Far-Eastern philosophies at the same time as to the myth of Oedipus and shows that the masculine and feminine only want to create themselves ex nihilo.^

Subject Area

Romance literature|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Bourgois, Lylian Y, "Feminin /masculin: Ordres et desordres du corps dans l'oeuvre de Marguerite Yourcenar" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3337001.