Marc-André Raffalovich

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Marc-André Raffalovich

Birthplace: Paris, Ile-de-France, France
Death: February 14, 1934 (69)
United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Hermann Raffalovich and Marie Raffalovich
Partner of John Gray
Brother of Arthur Germanovich Raffalovich and Sophie O'Brien

Occupation: Ecrivain et Poete
Managed by: Anita Chaptal Rudy, PhD
Last Updated:

About Marc-André Raffalovich

Marc-André Raffalovich From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Marc-André Raffalovich (11 September 1864 – 1934) was a French poet and writer on homosexuality best known today for his patronage of the arts and for his lifelong relationship with the poet John Gray.

Raffalovichs was born into a wealthy Jewish family, which moved from Odessa to Paris in 1863. His brother, Arthur, became a noted Parisian financier and economist. André went up to study in Oxford in 1882 before settling down in London and opening a salon in the 1890s. Oscar Wilde attended, calling the event a saloon rather than a salon. This is where Raffalovich met the love and companion of his life, John Gray. In 1890 his sister Sophie married the Irish nationalist politician William O'Brien (1852-1928).

In 1894, Raffalovich started to contribute on the subject of homosexuality (unisexualité, as he called it) to the Archives de l'Anthropologie Criminelle, a prestigious revue founded in Lyon by Alexandre Lacassagne, a pioneer criminologist and professor of Forensic Medicine. He soon became recognised as an expert in the field, engaging in correspondence with other researchers throughout Europe.

His magnum opus, Uranisme et unisexualité: étude sur différentes manifestations de l'instinct sexuel was published in 1896. In 1897, he started working on Annales de l'unisexualité, and les Chroniques de l'unisexualité with the aim of cataloging everything published on the subject of homosexuality. These have proved useful to historians up to this day.

In 1896, under the influence of John Gray, Raffalovich converted to Catholicism and joined the tertiary order of the Dominicans as brother Sebastian. At the same time Gray became a priest and was sent to Edinburgh. Raffalovich followed and settled down nearby, paying for the cost of Gray's new church.

There is a close link between Raffalovich's views on homosexuality and his Catholic beliefs. He had moved on from the contemporary vision of homosexuality as a "third sex" to consider it simply as an expression of human sexuality. He made the distinction between the born and the chosen inverts. The former only is worth considering while the latter is mired in vice and perversion.

He drew however a difference with heterosexuality based on the idea of vice and virtue. While a heterosexual's destiny is to marry and start a family, a homosexual's duty is to overcome and transcend his desires with artistic pursuits and spiritual and even mystical friendships.

These views led him to clash with Magnus Hirschfeld and the members of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, accusing them of being propagandists for moral dissolution and of wanting to destroy whole generations. He even supported Paragraph 175 as a way to prevent total moral chaos.

His attempt to reconcile his homosexuality and his Catholic beliefs pushed him further into his criticism of the early gay liberation movement and in 1910, he finally stopped commenting altogether on the subject which had had such a place in his life. He focused on his Edinburgh salon and his support of young artists.

He died in 1934, the same year as his lifelong companion John Gray.

Raffalovich was a 19th century Hebrew Catholic or Catholic Jew. His name was Marc-Andre Raffalovich and was a famous French poet and writer associated with John Gray and Oscar Wilde. He came from a wealthy Russian Jewish family from Odessa who moved to France a year before his birth. He became a Catholic in 1896 through the reading of Catholic mystical literature especially St John of the Cross. His sister Sophie also became a devout Catholic when she married her husband William O'Brien. His brother was Arthur Raffalovich. His mother Marie Raffalovich was noted for her artistic and literary salons in Paris and Marc-Andre was to establish his own salons in Britain. Marie married her uncle Hermann Raffalovich. She was the daughter of the banker Leon Raffalovich and Rosette Lowensohn. Marie and her husband Hermann Raffalovich were attached to Judaism enough that they left Odessa rather than convert to Christianity. Hermann's father Abraham and brother Anissim (Onesime) had converted in order to continue the family banking and merchant interests in Odessa in 1857. Abraham's brother Solomon remained a leader in the orthodox Jewish community and continued the family's ship building business for the Czar. Abraham and Solomon's brother Kalmaan Raffalovich left Russia in the 1870's and settled in the Holy Land. These three Raffalovich brothers were the grandsons of Raphael Parnes and Miriam Mirels. Miriam was the daughter of Rabbi Moses Mirels the Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam who was in turn the son of Rabbi Zalman Mirels the Chief Rabbi of Hamburg. from accessed 4/20/2011


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Marc-André Raffalovich's Timeline

September 11, 1864
Paris, Ile-de-France, France
February 14, 1934
Age 69
United Kingdom