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The Amorous RestorationLove, Sex, and Politics in Early Nineteenth-Century France$
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Andrew J. Counter

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198785996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198785996.001.0001

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1830: The End of an Eros?

1830: The End of an Eros?

Nodier and Fourier on the History of Sexuality

Chapter:
(p.208) 6 1830: The End of an Eros?
Source:
The Amorous Restoration
Author(s):

Andrew J. Counter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198785996.003.0007

At the centre of this chapter are similar remarks by two Restoration historians of sexuality: the novelist Charles Nodier, and the pre-socialist Charles Fourier. In their writings, both consider the changeable legal status of incest in history: permitted in the book of Genesis, yet outlawed and viscerally disapproved of in modern Europe. On the basis of this variation, both conclude that there is no such thing as a natural or necessary rule of sexual conduct: all sexual morality is customary and contingent. This argument resembles the underlying principle of much contemporary work in the history of sexuality, which often adduces the historical changeability of sexual mores in an attempt to destabilize contemporary sexual norms—a move which, though contestable, has proved politically powerful. The chapter thus sets up a multi-layered parallel between early nineteenth-century and contemporary understandings of the interrelation of sexuality, politics, and history.

Keywords:   Charles Nodier, Charles Fourier, incest, history of sexuality, sodomy, Oscar Wilde, David Halperin

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