Mainstream academic criticism has usually failed to engage gay work without distorting or ignoring its most central features. In gay men's writing, tenderness lies side by side with rage, and existential rejection of convention rubs shoulders with sexual hedonism. This groundbreaking work takes us on an unprecedented tour--in clear, lively, and non-technical language--of classic and little-known texts from the perspective of gay experience, sensibility, and desire.
Beginning with Wilde's and Byron's existentialist outlaw, the theme of social rebellion and the fight against conformity forms a common link among the literary works of the twentieth century. "Gay Men's Literature in the Twentieth Century" presents us with a unified analysis of these, and other, shared themes in the works of James Baldwin, Christopher Isherwood, Tennessee Williams, Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, E. M. Forster, Jean Genet, Joe Orton, Andrew Holleran, David Leavitt, and Constantine Cavafy, and in the love poetry of the first world war.
This is the most unified treatment of gay men's writing to date, written to appeal to the general reader, but based on scholarship so original that it is vital reading for anyone interested in gay studies and gender studies.