Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (Gender and Culture Series)
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First published in 1985, Between Men was a decisive intervention in gender studies, a book that all but singlehandedly dislodged a tradition of literary critique that suppressed queer subjects and subjectivities. With stunning foresight and conceptual power, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's work opened not only literature but also politics, society, and culture to broader investigations of power, sex, and desire, and to new possibilities of critical agency.
Illuminating with uncanny prescience Western society's evolving debates on gender and sexuality, Between Men still has much to teach us. With a new foreword by Wayne Koestenbaum emphasizing the work's ongoing relevance, Between Men engages with Shakespeare's Sonnets, Wycherley's The Country Wife, Sterne's A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy, Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, Tennyson's The Princess, Eliot's Adam Bede, Thackeray's The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., and Dickens's Our Mutual Friend and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, among many other texts. Its pathbreaking analysis of homosocial desire in Western literature remains vital to the future of queer studies and to explorations of the social transformations in which it participates.
gender strategy more densely psychologized, and described in relation to a more densely populated social world, in Sterne's Sentimental Journey. In chapters 5 and 6, discussing the paranoiac Gothic novel, we will deal more explicitly with the ways in which the range of male homosocial bonds may have been fractured by homophobia or structured in relation to an emergent male 66 The Country Wife: Anatomies of Male Homosocial Desire homosexual role. For the purposes of this section, however, it
traffic in women within an idealized "classless" nuclear family, over his power negotiations with men. 5 Rather than read Yorick psychoanalytically, that is, I would like to read him as pioneering in the ideological use of male "androgyny" and of ostensibly universal psychoanalytic perceptions to express and assuage the specific homosocial anxieties of the male middle-class intellectual. What features of the social landscape in A Sentimental Journey facilitate Yorick's manipulations? T o begin
strong identification of women's roles with the family during this period, it is to ihis hypothesis that we can look in shifting our focus temporarily from the historicity of men's bonds themselves to the historicity of women's relations to men's bonds. The feminist periodization that hypothesizes an important change in European femininity, and in the European family, under industrialism, £oes back at least as far as Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property, Mid the State. Some version of
Like the young aristocrat, the young gentleman at those same public schools would have seen or engaged in a variety of sexual activities among males; but unlike the aristocrat, most gentlemen found neither a community nor a shared, distinctive sexual identity ready for adults who wanted more of the same. A twentieth-century writer, Michael Nelson, reports asking a school friend, "Have you ever had any homosexual inclinations since leaving Eton?" "I say, steady on," his friend replied. "It's all
narrative, enabled the process of social and voca- Homophobia, Misogyny, and Capital: Our Mutual Friend 179 tional sorting to occur under the less invidious shape of different rates of individual maturation. Not until this psychologistic, "developmental" way of thinking had been finnly established was the aristocratic link between male homosexuality and femininity aHowed to become an article of wide public consumption-a change that was crystaHized in the Wilde affair (see chapter 5 and Coda)