January 24th, 2011

Oh Jonathon!

# 50 - Mark Mitchell and David Leavitt, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: The Hidden Tradition of Homo

# 50 - Mark Mitchell and David Leavitt, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand: The Hidden Tradition of Homosexual Literature in England, 1748-1914 (1997)


This collection of short stories and excerpts of longer works traces the elusive history of gay literature in English. Most of the works are by gay authors and were either privately circulated or were oblique parts of published stories which could be read codedly by the knowledgeable.

It’s a really solid collection. The only work I did not enjoy was John Francis Cohen’s ‘The Priest and the Acolyte’. I can see that this belongs in the anthology for historical reasons - it was the story which Oscar Wilde was believed to have written (but didn’t) which added so greatly to his notoriety. But it’s not actually a work of gay literature - it’s just child pornography about a priest and an altar boy. OK, no children were harmed in the making of it as it is purely fictional - but it is vile, vile, vile. I think including it was a reasonable decision as it gives insight into the zeitgesit of the 1890s but it really is horrible.

And that was my last review!