Stephen L. Harp
Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France
Louisiana State University Press 2014
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network January 5, 2015 ROXANNE PANCHASI
In the decades after the Second World War, France became the foremost nudist site in Europe. Stephen L. Harp‘s new book, Au Naturel: Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France (Louisiana State University Press, 2014) explains how this came to be. A study of nudist ideas, activity, and sites from the interwar years to the mid-1970s, the book is a fascinating history of the people (the Durville brothers, Kienne de Mongeot, and Albert Lecocq) and places (the Ile du Levant, Montalivet, and Cap d’Agde) that made nude tourism and leisure a major phenomenon in France.
Building on previous scholarship that has explored nudism in different national contexts, Au Naturel is a transnational history that illuminates the movement of bodies, beliefs, and practices across political borders, and the emergence of a postwar European community from a unique perspective. Drawing on a rich archive of materials from the local to the international, Harp reveals that nudism was both cultural and political in its meanings and effects in and beyond France. A history of the body and sexuality, Au Naturel is a story of shifting landscapes and values that will be of tremendous interest to readers across multiple fields.