Thursday 25 February 2010

The LGBT History Series (25) - Marcel Jouhandeau

Marcel Jouhandeau (1888-1979) was a French writer who's life was a constant internalised battle between strict catholicism and homosexuality.

Born in Limoges; from an early age, Jouhandeau had plans to enter into the orders, but instead moved to Paris in 1908. As a young man Jouhandeau confronted his homosexuality and saw it as a great offense to god, at the same time as engaging in numerous homosexual acts.

In 1914, after pressure from the Catholic Church, Jouhandeau had a "mystical crisis" in which he burnt all his manuscripts and attempted to commit suicide. Fortunately once the crisis was over, Jouhandeau turned back to his writing.

At age 40, he married √Člisabeth Toulemont who was also friends with Charles Dullin, Jean Cocteau and Max Jacob. She hoped to 'cure' him of his homosexual urgings. At this point, Jouhandeau published a work of Christian morals, before returning again to fulfil his homosexuality to the dismay of his wife. Jouhandeau documents this sexual rollercoaster in two autobiographies: Chronique d'une passion and Eloge de la volupt√©.

Images available here

PS. If you're reading these as they come out, you'll no doubt know by now that tomorrow is the much anticipated New History Lab: 'Queer Histories' seminar. For more information, look to the right of this article, and follow this link