Mademoiselle Giraud, ma femme

  • Author: Adolphe Belot
  • Editor: Christopher Rivers
  • Pages: xl & 216 pp.
  • Published: 2002
  • ISBN: 9780873527989 (Paperback)
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“Christopher Rivers deserves praise for his seamless and highly readable translation, which (in keeping with the spirit of the popular novel) will make this text available to a broad reading public. Rivers writes that his aim was to ‘capture at once the period flavor and the vitality of the original,’ and in this he has admirably succeeded.”

—Annie Smart, Saint Louis University

“Professor Rivers’s work is an extraordinary and successful undertaking. Unjustly forgotten, Belot’s novel is especially appealing today, given the current interest in feminism, gender studies, and queer studies. A great addition to the series.”

—Lawrence R. Schehr, professor of French, University of Illinois

Adolphe Belot was the envy of his contemporaries Émile Zola and Gustave Flaubert: his books, unlike theirs, were best-sellers. He specialized in popular fiction that provided readers with just the right mix of salaciousness and propriety. (Under the initials A. B. he dispensed entirely with propriety.)

The sensational Mademoiselle Giraud, ma femme (published in 1870 with a preface by Zola) tells of the suffering of a naive young man whose new bride will not agree to consummate the marriage. Eventually he learns from an acquaintance, to his amazement, that their wives are lovers. In the pitched battle between husband and wife, the sexes are evenly matched—until the end.

Christopher Rivers argues in his introduction that the protagonist’s homophobic attitude toward lesbianism is ironically linked to his intimate homosocial bonds with men. This example of commercial fiction, Rivers argues, reveals tensions in nineteenth-century French society not apparent in canonical works of high culture.

Adolphe Belot (1829–90) was born in Guadeloupe, studied and practiced law in France, and became a playwright and novelist in Paris. The money he made from his many potboilers supported his extravagant lifestyle.