ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Juggler (La Jongleuse) is a "decadent" novel that was first published in 1900. Its author, Marguerite Vallette-Eymery (1860-1953), who used the pseudonym Rachilde, was a prolific novelist (over sixty works of fiction), playwright, literary critic and reviewer, and a forceful presence in French literary society of her time. The protagonist of the novel, Eliante Donalger, is in some sense an exaggerated double for her creator--bizarre in appearance, clothing, and interests. Instinctively grasping a medical and psychological truth that the turn-of-the-century scientific world was only beginning to understand, Eliante maintains that there is nothing "natural" about human sexual expression. She claims to be in love with an inanimate (though anthropomorphic and sexually ambiguous) object, a Greek amphora, and the novel traces the rivalry between this faithful partner and an ardent human suitor, a young medical student. It is only through juggling, both literally and metaphorically, that Eliante is able to use her seductive power to maintain desire. The surprise ending challenges the limits of such power in a controversial and surprising twist. Although Rachilde's work has been neglected in the past, the women's movement and feminist criticism have stimulated renewed interest in her fiction. The Juggler is a major rediscovery.