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Love in a Dark Time: And Other Explorations of Gay Lives and Literature

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Colm Tóibín knows the languages of the outsider, the secret keeper, the gay man or woman. He knows the covert and overt language of homosexuality in literature. In Love in a Dark Time, he also describes the solace of finding like-minded companions through reading.

Tóibín examines the life and work of some of the greatest and most influent
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 2nd 2004 by Scribner (first published January 22nd 2002)
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K.D. Absolutely
When I read books by gay authors, I try to see if their gayness find its way to their works. However, it's not only about being gay but their family background or influences. That's why I always check their Wiki entries or read the book's "About the Author" section. I always find out the author's year and place of birth and if his biography is comprehensive enough, at what age and time of his/her life he wrote or published the book.

It never fails to amuse me how the background of the author infl
Dusty Myers
More of a series of profiles and reviews of gay male and female authors than a cohesive study of gay literature, this collection of essays is still a nice work of queer canon formation. Sure, Wilde, Mann, and Baldwin are already at the forefront of this canon, but Tóibín (is it fun typing out that name precisely with those finicky diacriticals? it is not) also includes such figures as Elizabeth Bishop, Francis Bacon, Thom Gunn, and Pedro Almodóvar in his study. His point is to call attention to ...more
U. Cronin
Colm Tóibín uses silky-smooth language that lifts all the efforts of reading off the shoulders of his readers. He writes with a clarity and simplicity that illuminate the complexities of the subject matter. I loved this book. Tóibín takes us through the lives of a number of gay writers, poets, artists and a film-maker, teasing apart what may have made each of them tick and how their homosexuality may or may not have shaped how they wrote or created. There are very different gay lives examined he ...more
Colm Tóibín, May His Tribe Increase!

This review is from: Love in a Dark Time: And Other Explorations of Gay Lives and Literature (Hardcover)
Once captured by the liquid, informed prose of Colm Tóibín it is difficult to ignore anything this brilliant writer has written. Still under the spell of 'The Master' and having just sadly finished 'The Story of the Night' (that novel could have been extended another 300 pages!), it seemed only appropriate to read an investigative work, just to see how this
Maybe this book of nine biographical essays doesn't offer groundbreaking research. Nor is the reader given sensational insights into intimate details of famous writers' lives. What makes it special is Colm Tóibín's personal and sensitive approach to some important homosexual artists of the 19th and 20th century.
The author's mainly interested in men (and one woman, Elizabeth Bishop) who in some way or another couldn't live their homosexuality openly or felt uneasy about it, such as Oscar Wilde,
Lore Lippincott
I'm marking this book as "read," when I've actually only gotten through the first chapter. And wept the whole time I read it. Perhaps I'm more emotionally stimulated than usual (PMS? the moon? solar flares? who can say...), or perhaps my awareness of human and civil rights is heightened due to the appeal-happy people in my home state making things miserable for the rest of us... or SCOTUS letting EVERYONE down and thrusting red matter into the universe, a la Romulans, to create a scary black hol ...more
Ronan Doyle
It was foolish of me, having been endeared to yet hardly enamoured of the eminently readable Lady Gregory's Toothbrush, to think Tóibín's non-fiction style too academically analytical to recapture the magic that had won me over so starkly in The Blackwater Lightship and The Heather Blazing. This marvellous book is certainly that—from its wealth of citations to the careful arguments it makes for its own mode of structuralist criticism—but it's also brimming with passionate, persuasive prose, writ ...more
A wonderful series of essays on homosexual artists, with a heavy emphasis on writers but also including painters and filmmakers. The connecting theme is the homosexuality of Tóibín's subjects, but the true focus is on their work, not their sexuality. The first section on Wilde is longer than the others and correspondingly more in depth, but all of these pieces are an overview, not a critical study or presentation of their depths. Consider it an introduction to the artistic side of gay history, a ...more
Interesting book. Toibin explores the lives of homosexual writers and artists: Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Bishop, Francis Bacon. One focus is how their homosexuality manifested itself in their work. I don't know enough about any of the writers to do much more than take in what he has to say.

There's also an Irish connection with many of the writers.

I found it odd that he doesn't list this book on his official website, though.

Maybe because it was published in the UK?

A very smart guy.
Sep 05, 2009 Krissa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Mayumi
I think - if I'm reading the introduction right - Toibin wrote this book in fits and starts for Paris Review. It would explain why the earlier, more historical explorations (Wilde, Bishop, Casement) are in-depth, well-researched and well-written examinations of homosexuality and art/literature; some of the later pieces, particularly on writers that Toibin is personally familiar with, contain none of the researched thoroughness of his earlier chapters.

The book is worth it for the sections on Wild
Jerry Delaney
This was written by Colm Toibin. For me, nothing else needs be said. I have never disliked (never not loved) any of his books. These 11 essays on Thomas Mann, Francis Bacon, Roger Casement, James Baldwin, etc. were all fascinating. Even those people I didn't start out interested in intrigued me as Toibin started his explorations. Not short biographies but rather essays on a particular aspect of each life that interested Toibin.
a collection of essays on gay writers (and Almodovar). Pity only one woman is included. Some of the essays were a bit too literal-scholarly for my humble brain, but most made interesting reading. The angle from which he views the writers is very interesting though and the introduction is highly interesting in this respect. in summary - i am happy to have read this book, some was above my understanding as said, but still, I have a new "to read" list now, he made me want to read some of those writ ...more
David Vanbiesbrouck
Tóibín selects the stars of his speculations well, but is is easy to see which are his favorite to write about. I would rather have had him leave out some of the (in my opinion) "filler-flamers" and write more about Wilde, Bishop, and Bacon.

Regardless- it was a wonderful read. His writing style flows and reads gracefully. It led me to the lives and literary phenomenon behind people who I had never known existed (Casement, Baldwin).

I will want to read his fiction!
Personal selection of essays probably an outgrowth of his work as a reviewer for The London Review of Books. All the subjects were gay. Only one was female. They were artists, poets and writers. They lived, even the most recent, in circumstances much less progressive than now. Some of the articles are very 'scholarly' and dry. The best give a sense of the person's personal life but too much of the book is critique of the person's oeuvre.
Really tried to get into this book, but it just wasn't happening for me. Hugely interested in the subject matter (the lives of homosexual artists), but found the essays too academic and to rely too heavily on quoting sources and references relating to the artist that I had no knowledge or understanding of. A lot of previous knowledge was assumed, and as I didn't have that, it left me frustrated and eventually just gave up on the book.
Jul 25, 2007 Casey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who want to see behind the popular stories
I really liked this book because it showed where gay writers were coming from. It never occured to me that sexuality would ever come through in a novel unless it was deliberate. It also opened me up to some contemporary writers and creative thinkers to look up in the future
James Haliburton
An interesting collection of essays. From James Baldwin and Oscar Wilde to Pedro Almodóvar and Francis Bacon, Tóibín dissects these lives in the context of their times and their art - typically Tóibín without resorting to cliché or easy judgements.
Martha Toll
This was an extraordinarily enlightening and insightful series of essays into a panoply of gay artists and how their sexuality affected their art. I only knew Toibin as a novelist, but he is an incredibly effective essayist.
Sam Berner
Probably one of the best written mini-biographies in terms of prose, style and empathy with the subject. More like a painting than a book, really. Read it through on an interstate flight and felt sorry when it ended.
This collection of elegantly written essays--critical and biographical-- about gay writers and artists, from Oscar Wilde to Pedro Almodovar, is enlightening and entertaining. Who knew Kafka was gay?
Fell in love with this book just by reading the introduction alone. I feel guilty not having read more Toibin and this will most certainly just be the beginning.
Jess Driscoll
page 151: He would fulfill the classic narrative of the tragic queer. He could paint, it might have been said, but he could not love, and so he died.
I hadn't heard of many of the cultural figures described in this book, but now I'll look out for James Baldwin and Thom Gunn!
Still finishing this one, but it provides some phenomenal backstories on some of the greatest queer authors of recent centuries.
Was an another interesting interpretation of someone else's stories. I did not find it very engaging.
Interesting account of coming of age in Argentine at a time when it was very dangerous.
A very readable analysis of artists who are gay as opposed to gay artists.
Read the Wilde/Bosie chapter for class. Lovely.
uneven and dry dry dry
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(From the authors website - )
"Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction
More about Colm Tóibín...
Brooklyn The Testament of Mary The Master Nora Webster The Blackwater Lightship

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