Elisabeth Ladenson | Proust, Self-Censorship and the Representation of Homosexuality


This essay arose out of the observation that while censorship is, for obvious reasons, most often studied in terms of works actually censored, it has always worked most consistently and most effectively through self-censorship. Taking Marcel Proust’s groundbreaking depiction of homosexuality in his Sodome et Gomorrhe — a work that was never censored — as an example, the essay attempts both to contextualize it within the burgeoning representation of male homosexuality in early 20th-century fiction and to demonstrate the ways in which Proust felt that he was less free to depict male friendship than his early 19th-century predecessor Balzac.

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