Bertram Cope's Year

Bertram Cope's Year

by Henry Blake Fuller

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America's very first Gay novel, published in 1919 is set in Evanston, Illinois.See more details below


America's very first Gay novel, published in 1919 is set in Evanston, Illinois.

Editorial Reviews

Joel Conarroe
[An] eminently readable work that is finally distinguished not so much by any prescient psychological probings as by its beautifully evoked period atmosphere, its sly humor and its picturesque diction. -- NY Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After New York publishing houses rejected the manuscript, probably on the grounds of its homosexual subtext, Fuller self-published this novel in 1919 to a devastating silence broken mainly by negative reviews. Although Edmund Wilson would later call it one of the best novels of its time, it has not been republished until now. The bittersweet core of the narrative, discreetly implied, is the homosexuality of its hero, Edmund Cope, a young professor who arrives at the Evanston, Ill.-based town of Churchton and is taken in by a society of genteel Midwestern eccentrics, including a widowed socialite, an aging bachelor who dreams of surrounding himself with entertaining young men and three young women who scheme for Cope's attention. Meanwhile, the self-centered, oblivious Cope writes letters to his absent friend, Arthur Lemoyne, and finally encourages Lemoyne to join him in Churchton. With a prose style as correct and detached as his protagonist, Fuller describes a series of seriocomic misunderstandings, including Cope's accidental marriage engagement, and flamboyant Lemoyne's banishment from the university after making a public romantic gesture toward a male cast member in a college drama. An amusing entertainment in its own right, this novel is also an important discovery for the gay literary canon, particularly (as essayist Andrew Solomon points out in his afterword) for its rare portrayal of day-to-day gay domestic life.
Library Journal
Near the end of a fairly distinguished writing career, Fuller tried to publish this novel in 1919. No one would touch it because it was about an ordinary homosexual man in an ordinary homosexual relationship. Dangerous stuff back then. So Fuller published it himself, to his peril; he lost his money and his friends. The tale chronicles a year in the life of Bertram Cope, a junior faculty member working on an advanced degree while teaching English at a university (read Northwestern) in Churchton (read Evanston). During the year, Cope moves his lover, Arthur, from back home to his side. The work deftly reveals the anguish of the closeted life, where a gay man has, in essence, a double existenceone at home and one for his public and work life. Such a life makes acquaintances believe Cope to be cold and distant, while his lover finds him less than fully committed. Of more interest is the toll on Cope. He can never let go, never fully be himself, never fully realize himself. The novel feels dated because of the time period and the realist writer's attention to detail and the social milieu; however, it is of value simply because it was written at all. Recommended for academic libraries. Roger W. Durbin, Univ. of Akron, OH
Keith Gumery Temple University
"Joseph Dimuro has produced a critical edition of Bertram Cope's Year that is lucid and well-researched; it is a fitting study of an important novel. Adding previously unpublished material from Fuller's journals and – excitingly –from the novel itself makes this edition a delight for readers, critics, and researchers alike. This Broadview Edition shows how modern Fuller was in his treatment of gay men, and their relationships with women and each other."

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Product Details

Turtle Point Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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