A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition

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Yale University Press, 1999 - Literary Criticism - 456 pages
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While many books have been written about gay writing, this is the first full-scale account of male gay literature, across cultures, languages, and from ancient times to the present. Working within the widest definitions of what constitutes gay literature, it includes chapters on the significant periods of cultural history (the Greek and Roman civilisations, the Middle Ages, the European Renaissance, the American major writers (Marlowe, Shakespeare, Proust) and on common themes (boyhood, mourning, masturbation). A work of reference as well as the definitive history of a tradition, it covers a definitive history of a tradition, it covers a massive field in terms of time (from Homer to Edmund White), literary status (from cultural icons like Virgil and Dante to popular novelists like Clive Barker and Dashiell Hammett), and location (from Mishima's Tokyo and Abu Nuwas' Baghdad to David Leavitt's New York). Taking a deliberately controversial view, A History of Gay Literature also deals with representations of male-male love by writers who were not themselves homosexual or bisexual men. It addresses conspicuous gaps, such as the lack of a substantial literature of the gay holocaust and the dearth of gay writing in postcolonial African poetry. In the sheer breadth of its scope, the book confronts recent trends in Anglo-American gay studies, both by insisting on the internationalism of homosexual culture and by reasserting a continuity of homo-erotic traditions between the ancient world and the present. Furthermore, by declining to focus only on the most obvious authors and texts, Woods succeeds in both widening the gay canon and reminding us of the large variety of gay works within the mainstream. What emerges is a gay male literature that is far from peripheral to the world's major cultural traditions. This substantial, provocative and highly readable work celebrates the richness and complexity of the literatures that gay men write, read, and offer to the broadest market. -- from dust jacket.
 

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Contents

The Making of the Gay Tradition
1
The Greek Classics
17
The Roman Classics
32
The Christian Middle Ages
41
The Orient
53
The European Renaissance
68
Christopher Marlowe
84
William Shakespeare
93
The Tragic Sense of Life
217
Fantastic Realism
226
Towards the Popular
237
The Pink Triangle
247
The PostWar StartingPoint
257
European Poetry on the Left
267
The Homosexual in Society
289
Black African Poetry
302

The Pastoral Elegists
108
From Libertinism to the Gothic
124
New Bearings in the Novel
136
The American Renaissance
151
Muscular Aestheticism
167
Spirit Versus Physique
181
Marcel Proust
192
Homosexual Men by Women
201
The Harlem Renaissance
209
Boys and Boyhood
321
The Age of Antibiotics
336
The AIDS Epidemic
359
Poetry and Paradox
375
Notes
390
Bibliography
421
Illustration Credits
446
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About the author (1999)

Woods is reader in lesbian & gay studies at the Nottingham Trent University

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