A terrific overview of a number of gay-related historical topics and how they managed to coalesce over time into something that could legitimately beA terrific overview of a number of gay-related historical topics and how they managed to coalesce over time into something that could legitimately be characterized as a "sensibility." There is lots here subsequent queer scholarship will take issue with, but I turn to it often as an invaluable reference clearly articulating certain perspectives on gay history and scholarship at a particular moment in time. ...more
Historical interest and the possibility to glimpse pre-Stonewall queer lives and mores overrides any literary merit (which is meager, to say the veryHistorical interest and the possibility to glimpse pre-Stonewall queer lives and mores overrides any literary merit (which is meager, to say the very least). ...more
A really nice introduction to one of my favorite contemporary artists. Bas's work often calls to my mind Fairfield Porter's elegance and exquisite att
A really nice introduction to one of my favorite contemporary artists. Bas's work often calls to my mind Fairfield Porter's elegance and exquisite attunement to color, albeit filtered through a gothic sensibility; I also find his implicitly/explicitly homoerotic reinterpretation of "classic" symbols and motifs of American boyhood—like the Hardy Boys—irresistible. There's also often something of Harry Darger as well, what with idyllic, impervious youth dropped into nightmarish dreamscapes. A really striking talent still in the process of emerging.
Over the years I've come to realize that my first encounter with "Babylon Revisited" is a crucial reason why I've developed a tendency toward preemptiOver the years I've come to realize that my first encounter with "Babylon Revisited" is a crucial reason why I've developed a tendency toward preemptive nostalgia. Even at the moments I'm most blissfully content there's a part of my mind always already mourning the fact any present happiness is destined to quickly slip into the past tense. This line in particular has emblazoned itself into my memory, and still makes me shiver: "I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone, and everything was gone, and I was gone." What's to ever guarantee that more good times are ahead?
I actually first read Fitzgerald's celebrated short story during one of the most sustained stretches of happiness I've ever experienced. I was an American student studying in London, my first time away from home for an extended period of time, and I was relishing every minute of it. This story was assigned for a class on expatriate American writers I was taking, and I distinctly remember a startling sensation of imagining myself returning at some point in the future to the large, warmly sunlit sitting room I often and was at that moment reading in, and ruefully recalling how truly wonderful that exact moment was, and how was it possible I didn't manage to recognize it at the time? "Babylon Revisited" haunted the rest of my semester—in a good, productive way, I should note—and, really, ever since.
At his best Fitzgerald composed prose that sparkles like so many diamonds upon the page. But here the crystalline phrasing not only glitters—it lacerates too.
Virginia Woolf’s posthumously published diaries are often—and rightly—considered among the major achievements of the form, with her biographer and nepVirginia Woolf’s posthumously published diaries are often—and rightly—considered among the major achievements of the form, with her biographer and nephew Quentin Bell unabashedly declaring them “one of the great diaries of the world.” But those now-classic examples of life writing, covering the years 1915 until 1941, are actually not what Lounsberry is concerned with in this study; instead she turns her attention to the diaries the young Woolf kept beginning in 1897 when she was merely fourteen years old. There are twelve early diaries in all, and beyond their obvious biographical interest, Lounsberry discovers within them a complex self-portrait of restless young talent eager to experiment and hone her craft as an aspiring author—first a reviewer and essayist, eventually as a writer of fiction as well.
This study considers the early diaries in strict chronological order, always keeping a keen eye on not just what they record, but how. Lounsberry very persuasively demonstrates that from the very beginning Woolf was fascinated by the diary as a form of literary expression, keenly attuned to the possibilities they provided to experiment in private. Very quickly the young writer came to regard her diary writing as a self-described “compost heap,” providing rich, raw material through which to cultivate work intended for publication and public consumption. Judiciously selected excerpts from the various diaries demonstrate that in many ways the “stream of consciousness” style for which she would go on to pioneer was beginning to take form in these pages as Woolf strains to capture and record the rapid movements of her restless, mercurial mind. It’s dazzling to witness, even via secondary analysis.
The other aspect of Lounsberry’s stated project—a consideration of how Woolf was influenced by the diaries she herself read and studied—was what elevated this study from the interesting to the invaluable; indeed, Lounsberry goes so far as to make the staggering claim that “Woolf was more steeped in diary literature than any other well-known diarist before her—and likely even since.” It can be confirmed that she read at least 66 of them, though she undoubtedly read many, many more. Lounsberry carefully traces how aspects of these many other texts made their way into Woolf’s own diary keeping, sometimes deliberately, other times in much more covert, unexpected ways.
As someone who has kept private journals since a young age and loves to read published examples of the form, Lounsberry’s study was from the get-go of specific interest to me. Beyond convincing me to return to Woolf’s own diaries, I now have a whole list of other diaries I’m now eager to explore, ranging from the perennial classics by Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, to the celebrated life writing by the Goncourts and Fanny Burney, and on down to more obscure entries by Stopford Brooke, William Allingham, and the dictated journals of Lady Hester Stanhope. In other words, while I found the analysis and description of Woolf’s diaries and a glimpse into her development as a writer more than engrossing in and of themselves, perhaps more importantly I also managed to discover a dimension of my favorite author’s work and artistic practice that deeply synchronizes with my own, providing more avenues to explore my own development as a writer and diary keeper. ...more
My beloved third grade teacher read this aloud to us over the course of several months, and I was so enthralled I quickly began tearing through the reMy beloved third grade teacher read this aloud to us over the course of several months, and I was so enthralled I quickly began tearing through the rest of the series. They became something of an obsession, and I dutifully collected several dozen of them; as such I'd wager that the roots of both my love of reading and my love of collecting books can be located here. The sense of camaraderie between the four siblings proved an endless source of great solace during some of my loneliest hours....more