In this installment of his [autobiography], Julian Green is now back at home in the Paris of the 1920s, caught in the struggle between the spirit and the flesh. [gay men][literature]
Published first in France in the mid-1960s, this volume picks up with Green's return to his family in Paris after three years at the University of Virginia, a seminal time in his long life. For there he not only enjoyed romantic friendships with other men and fell passionately in love, but also met the family of his beloved southern mother. Back in Paris he took long walks, read widely, and attended Mass daily. While his remarkably tolerant father did not pressure him to find work, Green was aware that he should find something. Writing turned out to be his true métier, and by the end of the volume he's part of the literary crowd surrounding Jean Cocteau and André Gide, has published three novels, and has won the 1929 Harper and Book of the Month prize for his novel Adrienne Mesurat. But while from then on literature would be the absorbing work of his life, his struggle to overcome his intense attraction to male physical beauty equally dominated those years. Though convinced that being pure in both body and soul was essential, Green could not refrain from furtive, anonymous one-night stands or falling in love with handsome young men. By 1929 he was a successful writer but of "the war between the body and the soul . . . had everything still to learn."
A fitting conclusion to one man's scrupulously accounted-for journey of self-discovery that, like the best of confessional literature, transcends the individual to become universal.
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