In this book, Jeffrey Merrick brings together a rich array of primary-source documents—many of which are published or translated here for the first time—that depict in detail the policing of same-sex populations in eighteenth-century France and the ways in which Parisians regarded what they called sodomy or pederasty and tribadism. Taken together, these documents suggest that male and female same-sex relations played a more visible public role in Enlightenment-era society than was previously believed.
The translated and annotated sources included here show how robust the same-sex subculture was in eighteenth-century Paris, as well as how widespread the policing of sodomy was at the time. Part 1 includes archival police records from the 1720s to the 1780s that show how the police attempted to manage sodomitical activity through surveillance and repression; part 2 includes excerpts from treatises and encyclopedias, published nouvelles (collections of news) and libelles (libelous writings), fictive portrayals, and Enlightenment treatments of the topic that include calls for legal reform. Together these sources show how contemporaries understood same-sex relations in multiple contexts and cultures, including their own. The resulting volume is an unprecedented look at the role of same-sex relations in the culture and society of the era.
The product of years of archival research curated, translated, and annotated by a premier expert in the field, Sodomites, Pederasts, and Tribades in Eighteenth-Century France provides a foundational primary text for the study and teaching of the history of sexuality.
“As both a research intervention and a teaching tool, Sodomites, Pederasts, and Tribades accomplishes a rare feat. It simultaneously showcases the process and the results of archival research.”
—Andrew Israel Ross, H-France
“Using heretofore unknown or little-explored sources, Sodomites, Pederasts, and Tribades breaks new ground by bringing to light the full breadth and complexity of the world of same-sex sexual relations in eighteenth-century Paris. With clear translations that keep the flavor of the original documents and are carefully annotated for the nonexpert, this anthology will no doubt become a foundational text in the history of sexuality.”
—Nina Kushner, author of Erotic Exchanges: The World of Elite Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century Paris
“Based on the most extensive research ever undertaken on the subject, this groundbreaking volume lets readers see for themselves how life was lived in the eighteenth century by those who refused to conform to sexual norms. Jeffrey Merrick is an unerring guide to this often obscured world, now brought out of the shadows thanks to his scholarly brilliance.”
—Lynn Hunt, author of Inventing Human Rights
“The French archives for the eighteenth century provide the fullest evidence for the origins of the modern Western sexual system. Jeffrey Merrick has shown himself the supreme master of these materials in his many translations and interpretive essays. In this new book, he gives us a stunning interim summation. Merrick and his colleagues in their database of thousands of same-sex cases are preparing to lay bare the foundations of a new kind of French Revolution.”
—Randolph Trumbach, author of Sex and the Gender Revolution: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London
“This volume will be of interest to students and scholars of LGBT studies and the history of sexuality in providing new sources to an English-language audience. The editorial apparatus, including introductions, annotations, and a glossary, will help guide the reader through the different sections of what is intended to form a comprehensive view of an eighteenth-century subculture.”
—Reginald McGinnis, Journal of the History of Sexuality
“Merrick's translations sound colloquial, his documentation is impressive, and his volume makes an important contribution to our knowledge of the sexual mores of eighteenth-century Paris.”
—William F. Edmiston, New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century
About the Editor:
Jeffrey Merrick is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He is the author of Order and Disorder Under the Ancien Régime and coeditor of Family, Gender, and Law in Early Modern France, the latter also published by Penn State University Press.