The Italian Invert


Intimate Confessions of a
Homosexual to Émile Zola

Edited by
Michael Rosenfeld
with William A. Peniston

Translated by
Nancy Erber
and William A. Peniston

250 pages

Paperback, $25.00 / £22.00 ISBN: 9781939594419
Hardcover, $60.00 / £50.00 ISBN: 9781939594426
E-book, $19.95 / £16.99 ISBN: 9781939594433

Recipient of the 2018 French Voices Award for excellence in publication and translation!*
French Voices
*(FACE Foundation – French American Culture Exchange)
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designed by Serge Bloch



“A brilliant archival discovery, a triumph of careful scholarship, an unsuspected episode in modern literature, a moving testimony about sex and love, and a fascinating, previously censored chapter in the history of sexuality. Rosenfeld masterfully restores the context in which conscious writing about homosexuality emerged in Europe during the last decades of the nineteenth century.”
David Halperin, W. H. Auden Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan

“The Italian Invert is a classic text of nineteenth-century sexology the interest of which is by no means limited to French (or Italian) studies. Richly enhanced here with critical notes, this volume makes a revised and expanded version of the primary documents available in English and also adds important essays that situate and enlarge their scope. … Whether one is interested in the history of (homo)sexuality or in literary questions … this is an indispensable tool that belongs on every researcher’s shelf.”
Melanie Hawthorne, Professor of French, Texas A&M University

“Of all the confessions or autobiographies by homosexuals in the nineteenth century, few have attracted and retained as much interest as the one written by the so-called “Italian invert”…[This edition] has made a notable contribution by publishing the complete Novel of an Invert with all the subsequent letters, along with critical analyses that make this book an absolute must for readers interested in the subject.”
Jean-Claude Féray, publisher and chief editor of Quintes-feuilles

“The uncensored letters of the young Italian homosexual … [are an] autobiographical account inspired by the long tradition of letters sent to great writers by anonymous readers. … It is still relevant as a manifesto protesting medical dogma and defending the right to happiness and love between men. … This story, now complete, brings the reader inside the shadowy history of desire, seduction, and the hidden passions of a bygone era.”
Marion Glaumaud-Carbonnier, Centre d’étude sur Zola et le naturalisme, CNRS – ITEM