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“O My Hero! O My Comrade in Arms! O My Fiancée!”: Gender Crossing and Republican Values in Jane Dieulafoy's Fictions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


The famed French explorer and writer Jane Dieulafoy became a celebrity in the late nineteenth century for the discoveries that she and her husband, Marcel, made on their excursions in Persia. Dieulafoy wore pants during this time and upon resettling in Paris acquired a permit from the Parisian police to wear men's clothing, even as she was embraced by the socially conservative literary and political elite. Recognizing Dieulafoy through the modern notion of transgender allows us to make sense of that seeming contradiction. Two of her long-overlooked novels, Volontaire (1892) and Frère Pélage (1894), can be read as early transgender narratives. Through their gender-crossing protagonists, these texts provide an intellectual framework for understanding how Dieulafoy reconciled her gender expression with the religious and social structures that she held dear.

Research Article
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2017

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