Both of the articles deal with the dual culture of public and private in the circle of homosexual composers and patrons. They also both dealt with the presence, or lack thereof, of sexual undertones in Poulenc and Satie’s work. The Dorf article presented the argument in a rather scattered and weak way. By contrast, Moore presented a cohesive and compelling argument, which is supported by relevant and varied evidence.
In general, it was hard to find a discernible, strong thesis in the Dorf article, and thus it is difficult for me to evaluate the argument if I don’t know what it is. The article starts with a summary of the context for the commissioning of Socrate, and how it evolved to be an oratorio instead of a dramatic reading. It then goes on to talk about the duality of Polignac’s sexual identity between public and private. However, the two are not connected very well. Some perhaps the only convincing evidence offered is the censorship, from Plato’s writings, of any imagery having to do with the body, suggesting that the work was deliberately silent on sexuality. However, Dorf also mentions the idea that women reading Plato, in and of itself, would be considered sexually transgressive. This evidence is contradictory to Dorf’s assertion: “Obviously, Socrate is not an overtly sexualized work.” Ultimately, this article is rather unconvincing in the evidence that if offers.
Moore presents a more cohesive and convincing argument for the presence of camp in Poulenc’s works. He makes a logical progression from exposing the idea of camp and sexual deviancy, to relating it to costume parties, and then showing how those costume parties make their appearance in Les Biches. The author also quotes Poulenc to strengthen his evidence, as in the quote where Poulenc says that Les Biches was influenced by the “eurotic atmosphere” of his youth. He also cites other scholars who have recognized this, such as Louis Schnieder. Ultimately, this argument is much more convincing because it presents more evidence, and it presents it from multiple angles.
Neither of the articles goes too far in their readings of sexuality. The Dorf, however, goes too far for the amount and type of evidence offered. If Dorf had worked through his argument more thoroughly with supporting evidence, then it would have been more appropriate. On the other hand, Moore’s argument seems logical, especially because it is supported by evidence Poulenc himself.
Samuel Dorf, “‘Étrange, n’est-ce pas?’ The Princesse Edmond de Polignac, Erik Satie’s Socrate, and a Lesbian Aesthetic of Music?” FLS: Queer Sexualities in French and Francophone Literature and Film 34 (2007), 87-99.
Christopher Moore, “Camp in Francis Poulenc’s Early Ballets,” Musical Quarterly 95 (Summer-Fall 2012), 299-342.