22 Pages

Sweet Dreams: Sexual Fantasies in J.K. Huysmans’s Against the Grain and Leopoldo Alas’s La Regenta

KEYWORDS. Fetishism, sexual inversion, Against the Grain, La Regenta, homosexuality, sodomy, Freud, sexual fantasy, bisexuality

Until the end of the nineteenth century, as several recent studies have pointed out, there existed neither the words nor the established traditions to provide a conceptual framework for bisexuality, fetishism, homosexuality, or lesbian love. “Before the end of the nineteenth-century,” writes Catharine R. Stimpson, “homosexuality might have been subsumed under such a term as ‘masturbation’” (365); in medical lexicon, George Chauncey explains, “sexual inversion, the term used most commonly in the nineteenth-century, did not denote the same conceptual phenomenon as homosexuality” (116). Henry Havelock Ellis, on the other hand, in Studies in the Psychology of Sexual Inversion, volume I, “firmly believed in the biological basis of all forms of sexual behavior, and argued that ‘true’ sexual inversion was always innate” (qtd. in Storr, 15). Ellis followed the earlier example of the German sexologist Krafft-Ebing in categorizing “cases of women and men who sexually desire both male and female partners . . . as ‘psychosexual hermaphroditism’” (qtd.