Cross-Dressing for Platonic Love: Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s The Love of Plato

  • Barbara Mennel


Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novella The Love of Plato (Die Liebe des Plato), with its themes of female cross-dressing and male platonic homosexual desire, would seem predestined to be a pivotal text at the intersection of feminist and queer theory, but surprisingly, it has escaped theoretical attention and scrutiny.1 The particular focus of the reception of Sacher-Masoch’s oeuvre on his novel Venus in Furs has eclipsed his other literary works. More importantly, however, indebtedness of The Love of Plato to a hegemonic nineteenth-century understanding of gender makes it an uneasy appropriation for feminist theory, and the marginalization and highly-coded nature of desexualized male homosexuality does not lend itself to an easy embrace by Queer Studies.


Gender Identity Sexual Desire Female Character Gender Characteristic Queer Theory 
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© Barbara Mennel 2007

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  • Barbara Mennel

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