chapter  1
Contesting the Jupien E ect: Annotation in the Eighteenth Century
Pages 18

Introduction: Watch out for the Paratext! In Paratexts, Gérard Genette gives the label ‘the Jupien e ect’ to situations in which ‘the paratext … tends to go beyond its function and to turn itself into an impediment’. Here, Genette’s allusion to the young tailor Jupien in Marcel Proust’s Á la recherché du temps perdu (1913-27) accords the paratext a complex status. In one sense, with this tag, Genette supports his view that the paratext is always ancillary: ‘only an antecedent, only an accessory of the text’.1 Jupien is Baron de Charlus’s homosexual lover and the manager of his male brothel; he is described as the aristocrat’s ‘factotum’ and ‘a subordinate’.2 In another, however, Genette’s reference to this character places the paratext in a more problematic position. Jupien acts as Proust’s narrator’s entry-point into the clandestine world of Parisian homosexuality, challenging his earlier belief in the near-universality of heterosexuality. When the narrator rst witnesses a tryst between Jupien and Charlus he comments: ‘[f ]aced by this initial revelation, I had greatly exaggerated the elective nature of so selective a conjunction … these exceptional beings … are legion’.3 At the same time, Jupien is a socially mobile gure, who gradually achieves considerable power over the Baron, becoming Charlus’s attendant a er a heart attack.4 Jupien is a minor character who nonetheless embodies some of the major changes in the narrator’s social world and mental landscape. In like manner, Genette’s term ‘the Jupien e ect’ shows his tacit recognition of the potential of the paratext to undermine the hierarchy between text and paratext. Genette warns us to ‘watch out for the paratext!’5