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Pages Passes from Hand to Hand
     

Pages Passes from Hand to Hand

by Mark Mitchell (Editor)
 
Before E. M. Forster's Maurice, written in 1914, introduced a new openness about the favorable depiction of homosexuality in English fiction, a number of novels and stories carried coded portraits of homosexuals and homosexuality. Many of these were, by necessity, published privately; still others were written to insure that the homosexual component would be

Overview

Before E. M. Forster's Maurice, written in 1914, introduced a new openness about the favorable depiction of homosexuality in English fiction, a number of novels and stories carried coded portraits of homosexuals and homosexuality. Many of these were, by necessity, published privately; still others were written to insure that the homosexual component would be recognizable to a select few; still others embedded homosexual content within such "safe" genres as the Western and the public school novel. There have been several recent anthologies of twentieth-century gay fiction, but David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell's fascinating book is the first to explore the texts that circulated before the "gay fiction" genre came into being, and before greater tolerance allowed writers to treat homosexual themes directly. Leavitt and Mitchell include extracts from stories and novels by well-known writers such as Herman Melville, Walter Pater, Henry James, Willa Cather, and D. H. Lawrence, as well as work from neglected figures such as Count Eric Stenbock, John Francis Bloxam, "Alan Dale," and Gerald Hamilton -- the inspiration for Christopher Isherwood's Mr. Norris. The result is an entertaining and revelatory anthology, and a valuable contribution to our understanding of the literary treatment of homosexuality.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Contemporary gay literature is often thought to have no antecedents, either because no works on gay themes were written before our time or because the new gay fiction is so stylistically innovative that nothing like it has ever been seen before. Neither proposition is so. As this volume demonstrates, a rich array of gay literature appeared before E.M. Forster wrote openly of homosexuality in his 1914 novel, Maurice, though much of it was in coded form. Leavitt, one of the leading gay writers of his generation, joins with lover and sometime coauthor Mitchell to offer a choice selection of strictly male homosexual prose by authors ranging from Melville, Pater, Henry James, and Lawrence to Count Eric Stenbock and Gerald Hamilton. The lineage here is that of Forster, whose stylerich, thick, occassionally ebullient, and often bordering on the morosecan be seen as the touchstone. (Indeed, Leavitt self-consciously takes his style from Forster.) A necessary addition to all librariesthat is, until gay men get their own Norton.David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Booknews
Anthologizes works from the era before homosexuality was openly discussed in English literature. Included are stories from such well-known authors as Melville, James, Cather, Lawrence, Ambrose Bierce and 24 other writers. Reveals how homosexual themes were often encoded in works intended for the general public, or discussed more openly only in works which were privately published for a select audience. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395837061
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/20/1998
Pages:
576
Product dimensions:
6.37(w) x 9.31(h) x 1.37(d)

Meet the Author

David Leavitt's first collection of stories, Family Dancing, was published when he was just twenty-three and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize. The Lost Language of Cranes was made into a BBC film, and While England Sleeps was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. With Mark Mitchell, he coedited The Penguin Book of Short Stories, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand, and cowrote Italian Pleasures. Leavitt is a recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He divides his time between Italy and Florida.

Mark Mitchell is the editor of the Penguin Book of International Gay Writing and coeditor of The Penguin Book of Gay short Stories.

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