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Human RemainsMedicine, Death, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century Paris$
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Jonathan Strauss

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823233793

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823233793.001.0001

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Pleasure in Revolt

Pleasure in Revolt

(p.132) Five Pleasure in Revolt
Human Remains

Jonathan Strauss

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines ways in which the ambiguity of death was interpreted as a positive. Human remains offered an image of aesthetic production, becoming a reference point and a model for the late-eighteenth-century architects Etienne Boullée and Nicolas Ledoux. Feces instantiated a similar creative force. They seemed, for authors such as Pierre Leroux and Victor Hugo, to represent the possibility of social renewal and, indeed, the redemption of humanity itself. In the debates that circled around them, prostitutes were consistently assimilated with waste-disposal systems, especially the sewers. If prostitutes were abject like sewers, however, that meant, conversely, that sewers were erotically charged like prostitutes. And so the hygienic response to the sex industry constituted a highly dissimulated expression of erotism in relation to human wastes, including the dead.

Keywords:   death, life, Etienne Boullée, Nicolas Ledoux, Pierre Leroux, Victor Hugo, prostitution, abjection

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