Jacob's Reviews > Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century

Strangers by Graham Robb
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's review
Oct 09, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2007-2009, gender-and-sexuality
Read from September 01 to 28, 2009

October 2009

A fascinating study of gay life before the twentieth century, using what literature is available from the times: which, aside from subtle (and, at times, not-so-subtle) references in actual literature, usually meant trials and police reports, other legal notes, and journals from the medical community--usually psychologists. Not to say that gay people of previous centuries were criminals or insane; but in cases where homosexuality is considered a crime and a disease, then obviously homosexuals are seen as criminals or worse.

But there were also unintended benefits to the various ways the public responded to the homosexual "problem," too. While Robb aknowledges that lives and reputations were certainly destroyed by ugly laws and misunderstanding officials, the unintended consequences were often that, due to the attention given to legal and medical cases, many gay people who thought themselves alone in an unforgiving world instead learned that they, and their feelings, were not so uncommon. While gay life in the 18th and 19th centuries was far from easy, it did manage to exist--and thrive. I know I used the word already, but what the heck: fascinating.
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Reading Progress

09/02/2009 page 1
0.29% "Randy Shilt's bio of Harvey Milk included (very) brief history of gay culture & movements. This should expand on that."
09/04/2009 page 48
14.08% "On medical myths: "a left-handed man with small hands and feet, [and] warm skin...was probably suffering from a serious disorder" Heh." 4 comments
09/14/2009 page 170
49.85% ""Guerre aux cons, paix aux trous-de-culs!"" 1 comment
09/27/2009 page 233
68.33% ""Ulrichs told his sister that it would be 'extremely unChristian' to ask God to perform a miracle and turn him into a lover of women."" 1 comment
09/30/2009 page 352
100% "Done, but need to reread/skim some chapters before reviewing. Should probably post a few more (and better) quotes, too."

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