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Monsieur Venus: A Materialist Novel (Mla Texts and Translations)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  248 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
As a woman, Rachilde was a rarity among Decadent authors, and in Raoule de Venerande she created a Decadent heroine of singularly monstrous proportions. For the imperious Raoule, Amazon and expert fencer, scion of an aristocratic line that has engendered Sadean libertines and pious spinsters, lesbianism is merely a banal vice. She seeks to transcend the limits of sensual e ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1884)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jul 24, 2014 Rowena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
3.5 stars. One of the novels included in Asti Hustvedt's "The Decadent Reader", which I'm currently reading. Very well-written, bizarre story that explores gender roles, transvestism, and sado-masochism. Weird, yet I couldn't stop reading. I can't believe the author was only 20 when she wrote this.
Nov 11, 2008 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent decadent novel: moving, disturbing, with an ending that echoes, in an abstract way, many later horror films and stories.

The perversions presented are, by this point in time, passe: mainly a dominant/submissive relationship between a masculine rich woman and her "kept" lover, an already effeminate male artist whom she further feminizes through the course of the novel. This is the crux, but the novel also strays into both vague and specific transvestism, wanton and calculated lust, prost
Aug 03, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have now finished reading Monsieur Venus, which I really enjoyed. I thought it was superbly written: the French just flows, the imagery and play on words (especially, you will have guessed, on masculine and feminine articles and pronouns) are just astounding.

I thought the story was well constructed, and could see a clear progression in the events and plot. You start off with this young woman who can get whatever she wants. She has no boundaries. Her aunt is an almost comic character: she is ou
May 29, 2011 Clare rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for a course in university and while the French was sometimes challenging I ended up really enjoying it.
When it was released it was banned in Belgium and considered to be pornographic, although by today's standards it is not so shocking.The story is about a wealthy young woman called Raoule de Venerande who starts a relationship with a working class man named Jacques Silvert. The story raises questions of gender roles and identities, as they are often reversed. The chara
Jul 29, 2009 Betty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Betty by: my french lit professor.
really creepy french book about transvestism and feminism... but ultimately fascinating. but creepy.
Sep 19, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rachilde was a fascinating figure in the Symbolist/Decadent crowd in Paris at the turn of the last century. The wife of the publisher of the influential Mercure, close friend to Alfred Jarry, she was known for going about cross-dressed, and for writing works that upended traditional notions of gender. "Monsieur Venus" is perhaps the prime example of such things. The main character, a woman named Raoule, accidentally meets a very beautiful young man, and becomes enamored of him, despite the huge ...more
Aug 01, 2014 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Colette, Radclyffe Hall, and Sarah Waters
Shelves: adult, french
Must the French writers always end their novels this way? Not trying to spoil it for anyone. This was such a unique read. The writing style was somewhere between Colette and Radclyffe Hall. I kind of wish there had been a little more passion in the writing style, but I enjoy the simplicity too. What makes this story so exciting for me is the art of bending gender so far that it turns its way back straight. I know the United States just recently embraced homosexuality, but I'm telling you people, ...more
If I were to use a single word to describe this book it will be unsatisfying or maybe insufficient. It is the type of book you rate 3* because deals with taboo issues, made such a rumpus when it was published, was banned; you know, issues you care about, and not because you really enjoyed it.
It is build on the familiar frame of rich lady taking as a lover a young and poor man. That in itself can pass as outrageous for some, but if you are familiar with French costumes and French literature it's
Catherine Siemann
Dec 28, 2009 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorians
I've listed this with Victorians because it's 19th century, but it's a clear example of why the French were so very *not* Victorian. The story of Raoule de Venerande, an wealthy aristocratic woman who makes Jacques Silvert, a poor young maker of artificial flowers into her "mistress," the novel is full of fascinating gender play and performativity, with the two characters slipping fluidly between gender roles. It features one of the most disturbing endings I've ever read.

I rather regret buying
Feb 19, 2016 Kezia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Fantastic retelling of the classic Pygmalion story. A dashing and modern heiress remakes a poor artisan into something fit for high society. But, y'know, with a dark, edgy side. In this nearly perfect experiment in gender role reversal, even the macho officer Raittolbe comes down with the vapors. As the mytharc behind the story goes, its 20-year-old author had secretly read Sade in her uncle's library.

Like others here, I read this in an anthology (reviewed at
Jun 04, 2010 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: decadent-fiction
Raoule de Venerande, a young woman from an ancient noble family, has a taste for cross-dressing as well as fairly exotic sexual appetites. Her meeting with a poverty-stricken florist and would-be painter gives her the opportunity to indulge her tastes to the full. Jacques Silvert is a passive young man to begin with and is therefore ideal for Raoule’s purposes. She sets him up in a studio and begins an affair with him, but she is to be the man in the relationship while he is to be the woman. But ...more
"My friend," she said in a voice that trembled all at once with forced gaiety and contained passion, "I warn you I shall become drunk, because my tale cannot be told in the accents of reason, you would not understand it!"

"Ah! Very well!" muttered Raittolbe. "Then I shall contrive to keep my own head!"

Then he emptied a flagon of sauterne into an ornately chased drinking-cup. They considered one another for a moment. To prevent himself from losing his temper, Raittolbe was compelled to acknowledge
Oz Ortega
Dec 30, 2013 Oz Ortega rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quizás en estos días del Fin de los Tiempos ya nada nos sorprende, pero es entendible que un texto como este haya causado revuelo cuando fue publicado en 1884. Travestismo,juegos de roles de género,sadismo,prostitución y "drogas"son mezclados con diálogos ingeniosos que llegan a ser incluso "filosóficos" y con sensuales descripciones de los ambientes "exóticos" de los salones parisinos del Fin de siècle. Considerar que fue escrito por una muchachita de solo 22 años es un punto muy favorable. No ...more
Steven Felicelli
had this on my readlist forever and finally read it - it's authentically transgressive (still - was written in late 19th Century) - Rachilde turns gender power-structure on its head without lapsing into easy feminism

this is a strange and violent book (if occasionally over-the-top, melodramatic) - surprised she's not a bigger name (yet - soon maybe) and that no one's made a film version of this book
Katie Petersen
I appreciate this book from a purely scholastic point of view. It wasn't the most well-structured or entertaining read but definitely interesting. More simply put, I could write endless papers about this novel but would only give a lukewarm recommendation of it to someone not actively involved in the study of 19th century French literature or Gender and Women's Studies.
Feb 24, 2008 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wealthy, aristocratic woman discovers a starving artist and literally makes him her bitch. Students of Eve Sedgwick take note, this novel is rife with gender performativity and intriguing sexual reversals. And it has a supremely creepy ending.
Akila Ally
Nov 29, 2015 Akila Ally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely entertaining even when you dislike the protagonist. Touches on gender fluidity, the question of biological essentialism - gender identity vs sexual orientation and how they contrast or overlap.
Dany Salvatierra
Resulta inquietante que la autora haya tenido 20 años al escribir el texto y que lo haya publicado en 1884, adelantándose a su época al derribar los roles de género y poner sobre el tapete el travestismo y la pansexualidad. Irrepetible.
Oct 22, 2010 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the more incredible studies of gender and class I've ever encountered.
Disturbing but well written
2016 READING CHALLENGE: A book at least 100 years older than you
Jul 08, 2013 pearl marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fraaance, scary
Consider me intrigued...
Disturbing but very interesting
Sep 10, 2012 Emmejayelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La couverture me donnait la trouille, mais le livre lui-même ... Bizarre, mais vaut la peine d'être lu.
Lily Ableman
Lily Ableman rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2015
Anna rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2016
elenlith rated it did not like it
Jul 29, 2012
Francesca rated it really liked it
Sep 02, 2015
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Rachilde was the nom de plume of Marguerite Vallette-Eymery, a French author who was born February 11, 1860 in Périgueux, Périgord, Dordogne, Aquitaine, France during the Second French Empire and died in April 4, 1953.
She is considered to be a pioneer of anti-realistic drama and a participant in the Decadent movement.
Rachilde was married to Alfred Vallette.
More about Rachilde...

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“I have never been loved enough to gain the desire of reproducing a being in the image of my lover and I have never been given enough pleasure so that my brain has not had the leisure to seek better...I have wanted the impossible...” 58 likes
“All monsters have their fits of depression.” 26 likes
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