Mme. de Lanty

The Veiling of Homoerotic Desire in Roland Barthes' S/Z

Carrie Watterson

Mme de Lanty is totally active: she dominates time (defying inroads of age); she radiates (radiation is action at a distance, the highest form of power); bestowing praises, making comparisons, instituting the language in relation to which man can recognize himself, she is the primal Authority, the Tyrant, whose silent numen decrees life, death, storm, peace; finally and above all, she mutilates man (M. de Jaucourt loses his "finger" because of her). In short, the precursor of Sappho who so terrifies Sarrasine, Mme de Lanty is the castrating woman, endowed with the hallucinatory attributes of the Father: power, fascination, instituting authority, terror, power to castrate. (S/Z, 36)

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