‘That mighty love which maddens one to crime’ Masturbation and same-sex desire in <i>Teleny</i>

Diane Mason

in The Secret Vice

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780719077142
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701089 | DOI:
‘That mighty love which maddens one to crime’ Masturbation and same-sex desire in Teleny

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This chapter continues the theme of homosexuality with a consideration of the way masturbation impacts on sodomy and male sexual inversion in nineteenth-century medical discourse. The literary focus of this chapter is the erotic novel, Teleny, or The Reverse of the Medal (1893), a work currently celebrated primarily for its putative associations with Oscar Wilde. It concentrates on the constructions of, and relationship between, the eponymous concert pianist, René Teleny, and his male lover, Camille Des Grieux. It demonstrates how these characters, when examined through the medico-sexual discourses of masturbation, degeneration and sexual inversion/perversion, appear rather to conform to the models presented in the case studies of practitioners such as Richard von Krafft-Ebing than to function exclusively as propagandistically ‘homosexual’ figures.

Keywords: masturbation; homosexuality; sodomy; male sexual inversion; erotic novel; Camille Des Grieux; René Teleny

Chapter.  11062 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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