Restif de la Bretonne, Nicolas-Edme (1734-1806), libertine fiction, fetishism, prose, sexology, French literary history
French and Francophone Language and Literature | French and Francophone Literature | Modern Literature | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
This essay examines the role of Rétif's writings in the development of the concept of erotic fetishism and in the formation of the French literary canon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rétif explored foot and shoe fetishisms more than a century before the phenomena were medically recognized, anticipating the modern psychosexual use of the term fetishism and making important contributions to the invention of the theoretical concept. Rétif's works were accorded a privileged place in early pathologies of fetishism, which provoked a series of polemics among German and French medical doctors and literary scholars centered on notions of national supremacy and literary value. Marked as bad literature, in both senses of the term, Rétif's writing was subsequently excluded from the French literary canon on moral grounds and became a kind of fetish object in the French literary corpus. (ASW)
Wyngaard, Amy S., "The Fetish in/as Text: Retif de la Bretonne and the Development of Modern Sexual Science and French Literary Studies, 1887-1934" (2006). Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. Paper 3.
PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, vol. 121, no. 3, pp. 662-86, 2006 May