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Reed, G.S. (1992). The Quadrille of Gender. Casanova's 'Memoirs.': By François Roustang. Translated by Anne C. Vila. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988. 163 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 61:101-104.

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(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:101-104

The Quadrille of Gender. Casanova's 'Memoirs.': By François Roustang. Translated by Anne C. Vila. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988. 163 pp.

Review by:
Gall S. Reed

This short book by the well-known French psychoanalyst and annual professorial visitor to this country's shores is as fascinating as its English title is felicitous. Originally published in French as Le Bal Masqué de Giacomo Casanova (The Masked Ball of Giacomo Casanova), the book has an English title that retains the author's original intention and hints as well at his subject's underlying concern. The original title alluded to Casanova's presentation of himself to his reader. As Roustang persuasively organizes it, far from a discontinuous series of memoirs, that presentation is an elaborate and disguising dance in which the reader is invited to be duped by the memorialist's professions of philosophy into sharing in an attempt to cancel out all law and all difference, especially the perception of sexual differences. That is, the presentation of the memories is consistent with the organization of the memorialist's perverse character. The new English title alludes to the dynamics underlying that character as well.

Roustang's view of the memorialist's presentation of himself to the reader, which some would call transferential, is inextricably entwined both with the unconscious dynamics of the latter's character and with underlying questions about the position of the reader-interpreter who organizes the data and makes sense of it. It is not surprising, then, that this exposition is preceded by an essay,

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