constituted for Baudelaire a symbol of 'heroic protest against . . . modernity', the price of that protest was high. 90 As with Delphine and Hippolyte, those who attempted to change or deny the existing social and economic order would not only fail, but would be banished;

Far from the living, condemned wanderers,
Run like wolves across the deserts;
Make your destiny, disordered souls,
And flee the infinite that you carry inside! 91

Any attempt to flee the demands imposed upon individual freedom by the need to maintain the social order led to exile, chaos, and the destruction of society altogether.

Whereas writers of the July Monarchy had hoped to create a new social order based on love and harmony, and expressed this desire through the image of the hermaphrodite, Second-Empire writers, despite the critique of self-interest that they shared with their predecessors, seemed to conclude that no alternatives were possible, since any attempt at social reorganization would result in the complete dissolution of society. Second-Empire sources clearly warned that crossing boundaries of gender, class, and sexuality led to disorder, that unity was a chimera, and that social stability depended upon respecting distinctions and divisions in society. Those who wished to live and prosper in society had to respect the boundaries and distinctions that were part of bourgeois life. As Charles, the narrator of La Comtesse de Chalis, concluded, somewhat sadly, the stability of the social order itself depended upon respecting such distinctions:

Virility is every day, all one's life, creating two parts of one's time: the first for one's family, the second for society. It's not enjoyable, perhaps; but it is on this condition alone that we become and remain a people. 92


CONCLUSION

According to Peter Brooks, the sexualized body functions in modern narratives as 'a source and a locus of meanings', and sexual desire constitutes, in these same narratives, 'the desire to know'. 93 By extension, the sexualized body constitutes a privileged site for the elaboration of discourses that seek to define and make comprehensible a definition not only of the self, but of the social order as

-420-

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