And now we come to a novel that comes fairly late in the canon of Marguerite Emery-Vallette, more popularly known by her nom de plume of Rachilde. Written at the ripe old age of 40, nearly 20 years after her much hyped debut of Monsieur Venus and closing on 15 from her true masterwork The Marquise de Sade, Rachilde brings us The Juggler.
Popular opinion, driven by the revival of interest in her work by post-modern feminist critique, would have you believe this to be her apotheosis, her final “important” novel and one which encapsulates and subsumes all the themes and stylistic flourishes to which all her earlier, more scandalous work aspired. In effect, they claim, everything Rachilde had written was a build to, or decline from, this one defining moment.
To which I inform the reader: that is absolute and utter bullsh*t.
Once again proving you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, in attempting to bring some well deserved attention to a once popular female novelist of the Decadent era, who had been unfairly neglected and pushed aside by the tide of time and history as well as the snotty vagaries of critical review, these misguided would-be revisionist historians wind up missing the boat entirely, misunderstanding what the appeal and power of said authoress is or where her respective strengths and weaknesses lie, and in the plain fact of the matter, just don’t get it.
Moreover, I’m concerned for the mental, emotional, and sexual health of anyone who reads this bizarre missive and comes away identifying with the heroine in any real respect, much less finding her approach and philosophical standing towards sexual politics one with any currency in this or any other era, much less one worthy of adoption.