Chapter

Pleasure in Revolt

Jonathan Strauss

in Human Remains

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780823233793
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241262 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823233793.003.0006

Series: Forms of Living

Pleasure in Revolt

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This chapter examines ways in which the ambiguity of death was interpreted as a positive. Human remains offered an image of aesthetic production, becoming a reference point and a model for the late-eighteenth-century architects Etienne Boullée and Nicolas Ledoux. Feces instantiated a similar creative force. They seemed, for authors such as Pierre Leroux and Victor Hugo, to represent the possibility of social renewal and, indeed, the redemption of humanity itself. In the debates that circled around them, prostitutes were consistently assimilated with waste-disposal systems, especially the sewers. If prostitutes were abject like sewers, however, that meant, conversely, that sewers were erotically charged like prostitutes. And so the hygienic response to the sex industry constituted a highly dissimulated expression of erotism in relation to human wastes, including the dead.

Keywords: death; life; Etienne Boullée; Nicolas Ledoux; Pierre Leroux; Victor Hugo; prostitution; abjection

Chapter.  16829 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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