By David Caron
The deluge of metaphors brought on in 1981 in France through the 1st public reviews of what might grow to be the AIDS epidemic unfold with a long way better pace and potency than the virus itself. to appreciate why it took France goodbye to react to the AIDS drawback, AIDS in French Culture analyzes the intersections of 3 discourses—the literary, the scientific, and the political—and lines the foundation of French attitudes approximately AIDS again to nineteenth-century anxieties approximately nationhood, masculinity, and sexuality.
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Extra resources for AIDS in French Culture: Social Ills, Literary Cures
According to this model, the community is threatened not by an internal collapse but by a virus-like entity, an enemy all the more dangerous as he is invisible: we are no longer dealing with a Gender Indecision and Cultural Anxiety S 37 familiar, indeed familial disease. Zola’s stylistic choices directly reflect the changing context of the late nineteenth century, which faced a recurrence of epidemic diseases such as syphilis and cholera and the discoveries of new viruses and bacteria, along with science’s inability to resolve many of these problems.
Il savait tout, il endoctrinait les camarades. (437–38)] The results are soon felt: “Loud cheers greeted his words. Corruption was taking its toll” (39) [“Des bravos éclatèrent, la perversion agissait” (438)]. Chouteau’s rhetoric is disjointed and incomplete; he is unable to synthesize the fragments of discourses he has managed to pick up here and there but couldn’t comprehend. His social unproductiveness logically corresponds to his inability to use the coherent language of truth and reason. From a structural standpoint, this character represents, within the fictional text, the type of language naturalist novelists criticized, for such language was considered not only the product of sick and degenerate minds but also one of the root causes of contemporary social ills.
In a passage like this one, Zola unwittingly recognizes the fact that scientific knowledge is also produced by a given worldview in a given historical context—in a word, by a preexisting paradigm. Far from the universalizing ambitions of the bourgeoisie, Zola seems to entertain the theoretical possibility—or inevitability, even—of future paradigm shifts, that is, of revolutions (in the rich, Kuhnian sense of the term). If Zola could not stick to his avowed project as presented in his critical writings, it may be because he could sense its relativity.