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Homoerotic Space

Homoerotic Space: The Poetics of Loss in Renaissance Literature

Stephen Guy-Bray
Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Homoerotic Space
    Book Description:

    Stephen Guy-Bray argues that early modern authors used renditions of Theocritan and Virgilian pastoral, as well as epic poetry, for the exploration and the allusive presentation of homoerotic and homosocial themes.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7584-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-23)

    This horrible crime not to be named by Christians: this commonplace of medieval and Renaissance legal and theological discourse has often been used to end the discussion, but I want to use it to begin my discussion. In approaching this Latin tag I have been mindful of something Michel Foucault said inThe History of Sexuality:

    [W]e must not imagine a world of discourse divided between accepted discourse and excluded discourse, or between the dominant and the dominated one; but as a multiplicity of discursive elements ... Discourses are not once and for all subservient to power or raised up...

  5. Chapter One Classical Pastoral and Elegy
    (pp. 24-56)

    Theocritusʹs idylls stand at the very beginning of the pastoral (or bucolic) tradition.¹ The Theocritean corpus as it has come down to us includes soliloquies, dialogues, and versions of famous mythical stories. Not all poems are set in the countryside, nor are all the characters in the poems in the same social class. Homoeroticism is important in many of the poems, but by no means in all. Finally, not all the poems in the corpus are by Theocritus. I have given this summary because Theocritus is an author who has been endlessly constructed and reconstructed and he has usually been...

  6. Chapter Two The Aeneid and the Persistence of Elegy
    (pp. 57-84)

    Before I turn to theAeneidI want to look once more at the eclogues. While I think that the tone of the eclogues as a whole is elegiac, the fifth eclogue is the only one to contain a real elegy in the modern sense – in fact, it contains two. Two shepherds, Menalcas and Mopsus, meet and decide to sing. They both sing elegies for Daphnis. The use of the name Daphnis and many features of the elegies can be taken as part of Virgilʹs extended homage to Theocritus, but there are a number of important differences. Most obviously,...

  7. Chapter Three The Space of the Tomb
    (pp. 85-132)

    Although many of the most famous English poems are elegies, the tradition of elegiac poetry in English is not ancient. There are some Old English poems that are often called elegies, but it was only in the sixteenth century that English poets began to produce a body of poetry that is elegiac in the sense that the Greek poems lamenting the deaths of Daphnis or Moschus are elegiac. This may in part be due to the fact that most English poets before the sixteenth century would only have been able to read these poems in translation. In this chapter I...

  8. Chapter Four Pastoral and the Shrinking of Homoerotic Space
    (pp. 133-175)

    As I suggested in the last chapter, the pastoral elegy continued to function as a site of homoeroticism throughout the Renaissance.¹ This was not always the case with other pastoral poems such as the collections modelled on VirgilʹsEcloguesthat were so popular at this time, even though these collections usually included an elegy. Although pastoral poets continued to think of the pastoral as a genre that permitted a relatively great freedom of expression, this freedom was increasingly used primarily – sometimes exclusively – to comment on political and religious matters. What was true of the poets has, as a...

  9. Chapter Five Idylls and Kings
    (pp. 176-215)

    Up to this point, my focus in discussing Renaissance literature has been on its use of the classical pastoral. I want to turn now to Renaissance responses to the issues posed by the end of theAeneid. Of course, the influence of theAeneidcan be detected almost everywhere in Renaissance literature, but my interest in this chapter is not on specific versions of scenes, characters, or even turns of phrases from Virgilʹs epic but rather on how his depiction of the place of homoeroticism was influential. In my reading of theAeneid, its ending could be taken to suggest...

  10. Postscript
    (pp. 216-224)

    Thoughout this book I have looked at old literature from my own contemporary perspective and drawn many conclusions. In the last few decades, it has become a truism to point out that this sort of inquiry is always biased, and as is the case with many truisms, this one bears repeating. In her article on women in Shakespeareʹs history plays, Phyllis Rackin issues a useful formulation of the problem: ʹThe questions with which we approach the past are the questions that trouble us here and now, the answers we find (even when couched in the words of old texts) the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 225-246)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 247-260)
  13. Index
    (pp. 261-265)