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 Topic: Ambroise Tardieu on pederasty

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Joined: 31 Jan 2006
Posts: 3
Interests: I am extremely interested in scientific treatments of same-sex desire throughout history but particularly during the nineteenth-century.
Physical Location: Oxford, UK

Posted: 31 Jan 2006, 10:18 am    Post subject: Ambroise Tardieu on pederasty Reply with quote

As part of my 19th-century bibliography project I am pleased to say that the first English translation of Ambroise Tardieu's comments on pederasty has now been posted on my website. The link for the bibliography is (click on this and follow the directions to Tardieu which is currently posted as a PDF document).

Tardieu wrote this extraordinary piece as part of his influential book Étude médico-légale sur les attentats aux mœurs ('Forensic Study On Offences Against Public Decency'), first published in 1857. According to Tardieu, pederasts, active and passive, could be identified in court by the physical deformations of the body that the act of sodomy left on the participants, deformations that Tardieu undertook to describe in his book based on his own clinical observations. He includes some truly peculiar descriptions of funnel-shaped anuses and tapered penises that were supposedly caused by the act of anal penetration. As a leading French physician, Tardieu's comments were extremely influential in his home country and as bizarre as they may seem to us today it appears that many Frenchmen were convicted for sodomy on evidence provided by Tardieu on the shape of the accused's penis or anal region. The German medical tradition came to dominate the scientific study of same-sex desire in Europe, seeking as it did to identify the manifestations of pederasty in the mind rather than the body. Nonetheless, Tardieu's work represents the pinnacle of a long forensic tradition and, as this new 60-page translation shows, gives us unique insights into the treatment of same-sex desire in mid 19th-century France.

The new translation by Lindsay Robinson is taken from the 7th edition of Tardieu's book published in 1878. Your thoughts and comments are invited! Please note, this document is not for the faint-hearted or minors. Further information on Tardieu can be found at
Ross Brooks
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