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Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century

de Graham Robb

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353554,715 (3.99)6
The nineteenth century was a golden age for those people known variously as sodomites, Uranians, monosexuals, and homosexuals. Long before Stonewall and Gay Pride, there was such a thing as gay culture, and it was recognized throughout Europe and America. Graham Robb, brilliant biographer of Balzac, Hugo, and Rimbaud, examines how homosexuals were treated by society and finds a tale of surprising tolerance. He describes the lives of gay men and women: how they discovered their sexuality and accepted or disguised it; how they came out; how they made contact with like-minded people. He also includes a fascinating investigation of the encrypted homosexuality of such famous nineteenth-century sleuths as Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes himself (with glances forward in time to Batman and J. Edgar Hoover). Finally, Strangers addresses crucial questions of gay culture, including the riddle of its relationship to religion: Why were homosexuals created with feelings that the Creator supposedly condemns? This is a landmark work, full of tolerant wisdom, fresh research, and surprises.… (més)
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Es mostren totes 5
Loved the last chapter, which was the reason I became interested in the book in the first place. Overall, the book was informative, though a bit difficult reading at times -- greater familiarity with Balzac might have helped. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
Interesting information but incredibly dense... which would not typically be a problem but it was awkwardly written. Need to reread paragraphs and whole chapters just to de-gunk it and finally understand what the author was meaning. Still, the chapter on detectives (Sherlock Holmes! Dupin!) and how they can be read as queer was very very interesting and worth reading. I can't decide if I think that chapter is the best one because it directly uh, pertains to my interests or because it was so much more focused than the rest of the book.

( )
  Joanna.Oyzon | Apr 17, 2018 |
See private comments ( )
  ebeach | Nov 6, 2017 |
This book is quite a terrific undertaking, synthesizing many anecdotes of homosexual life and love to form a picture that is more representative of day-to-day living for the 19th century man (again, studying primarily male homosexuality) than the more typically tragic and melodramatic conclusions generally made about homosexuality in the past. Although I was reading it for my studies I found myself entertained by it and would have enjoyed it outside of its immediate academic relevance. Robb isn't afraid to be funny and in the anecdotes there is often something utterly hopeful that makes you care in a personal way for these men from the not-so-distant past. He's quite discerning about the definitions of homosexuality and self-identification and I like the use of the numerous anecdotes in representing a more comprehensive view of gay Victorian life. There's much more to it than the legal aspects, or even the strictly sexual aspects. I recommend this one to anybody with a passing interest in Sexuality vs. The Victorians--always remember that the Victorians were no less naughty than we are.

A particular highlight of the book: learning that Edmund Gosse brought saucy von Gloeden photographs given to him by J.A. Symonds to Robert Browning's funeral. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
I found this book well-written, carefully researched and convincily argued—an enjoyable read from start to finish. ( )
  mari_reads | Sep 14, 2011 |
Es mostren totes 5
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The nineteenth century was a golden age for those people known variously as sodomites, Uranians, monosexuals, and homosexuals. Long before Stonewall and Gay Pride, there was such a thing as gay culture, and it was recognized throughout Europe and America. Graham Robb, brilliant biographer of Balzac, Hugo, and Rimbaud, examines how homosexuals were treated by society and finds a tale of surprising tolerance. He describes the lives of gay men and women: how they discovered their sexuality and accepted or disguised it; how they came out; how they made contact with like-minded people. He also includes a fascinating investigation of the encrypted homosexuality of such famous nineteenth-century sleuths as Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes himself (with glances forward in time to Batman and J. Edgar Hoover). Finally, Strangers addresses crucial questions of gay culture, including the riddle of its relationship to religion: Why were homosexuals created with feelings that the Creator supposedly condemns? This is a landmark work, full of tolerant wisdom, fresh research, and surprises.

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