oa Alternation - James Barry's Corporeal archive: an hermaphrodite at the Cape

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



Balzac's gothic story Sarrassine, published in 1830 (Barthes 1975), reveals the narrative power of sexual ambiguity. The narrator seduces a mistress with the tale of the Frenchman, Sarrasine, who falls in love with an Italian opera singer, La Zambinella. On discovering that 'she' is a male castrati, Sarrasine laments To Jove, to be loved! are henceforth meaningless words for me, as they are for you. I shall forever think of this imaginary woman when I see a real woman.

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