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This important book is the first full-scale account of male gay literature across cultures, languages, and centuries. A work of reference as well as the definitive history of a tradition, it traces writing by and about homosexual men from ancient Greece and Rome to the twentieth-century gay literary explosion. "Woods' own artistry is evident throughout this elegant and startling book...These finely honed gay readings of selected Western (and some Eastern) literary texts richly reward the careful attention they demand...Though grounded in the particulars of gay male identity, this masterpiece of literary (and social) criticism calls across the divides of sex and sexual orientation."-Kirkus Reviews (a starred review) "An encyclopedic mapping of the intersection between male homosexuality and belles lettres ...[that is] good reading, in part because Woods has foregone strict chronology to link writers across eras and cultures."-Louis Bayard, Washington Post Book World "Encyclopedic and critical, evenhanded and interpretive, Woods has produced a study that stands as a monument to the progress of gay literary criticism. No one to date has attempted such a grand world-wide history...It cannot be recommended highly enough. "-Library Journal (a starred review) "A bold, intelligent and gorgeously encyclopedic study."-Philip Gambone, Lambda Book Report "An exemplary piece of work."-Jonathan Bate, The Sunday Telegraph

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780300080889
ISBN-10: 0300080883
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 23mm)
Pages: 466
Imprint: Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publish Date: 1-Nov-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This scholarly work is an exploration of gay writing from ancient Greece and Rome up to the present day. It includes chapters on the Orient and black African poetry as well as the western tradition. This is a substantial work, comprehensive in scope; but discussing the relationship between social context and gay writing in detail. Woods highlights the difficulties that authors have faced in representing gay characters and lifestyles and their 'coded' ex-appearances in classical works. This is a rich source book for anyone interested in gay literature. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » These finely honed gay readings of selected Western (and some Eastern) literary texts richly reward the careful attention they demand. Woods (Gay & Lesbian Studies/Nottingham Trent Univ., England) extracts the full interpretive mileage to be had from ideals of ambiguity, paradox, and perspective. This is already evident in the structure of the book, which approaches its subject from diverse angles, both chronological and thematic. Separate chapters address, among other topics, the Greek classics, the Middle Ages, Shakespeare, Proust, the Holocaust, women writers, masturbation, boyhood, and the political left. That such a far-ranging gay-themed book is possible at all owes to an ambiguity in the notion of gay reading: A text's status as gay may depend either on the sexual identity of its author or on its susceptibility to placement in interpretive contexts of homosexual attraction. Thus, while the very idea of a canon of gay writing depends on a tradition of gay authorship, a gay reading of Shakespeare's "fiendishly ambiguous" Sonnet 20 stands apart from the (contested) sexual identity of its writer. Woods acknowledges and affirms this tension by publishing his book with a major university press, while implying by his frequent intimate use of the selectively embracing, "us" that most, if not all of his readers are surely gay. The final brilliant chapter, "Poetry and Paradox," weds the social subversions of paradox typical of all minority groups (compare, from a Jewish perspective, Leo Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing) to the heights of poetic art. Woods's own artistry is evident throughout this elegant and startling book, especially in the memorable turns of phrase (e.g., in the chapter "The Family and Its Alternatives': "Outlaws and inlaws are simply not compatible"). Though grounded in the particulars of gay male identity, this masterpiece of literary (and social) criticism calls across the divides of sex and sexual orientation. (Kirkus Reviews)


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