Double Agents

Double Agents: Espionage, Literature, and Liminal Citizens

Erin G. Carlston
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Double Agents
    Book Description:

    Why were white bourgeois gay male writers so interested in spies, espionage, and treason in the twentieth century? Erin G. Carlston believes such figures and themes were critical to exploring citizenship and its limits, requirements, and possibilities in the modern Western state. Through close readings of Marcel Proust's novels, W. H. Auden's poetry, and Tony Kushner's playAngels in America, which all reference real-life espionaage cases involving Jews, homosexuals, or Communists, Carlston connects gay men's fascination with spying to larger debates about the making and contestation of social identity.

    Carlston argues that in the modern West, a distinctive position has been assigned to those perceived to be marginal to the nation because of non-visible religious, political, or sexual differences. Because these "invisible Others" existed somewhere between the wholly alien and the fully normative, they evoked acute anxieties about the security and cohesion of the nation-state. Incorporating readings of nonliterary cultural artifacts, such as trial transcripts, into her analysis, Carlston pinpoints moments in which national self-conceptions in France, England, and the United States grew unstable. Concentrating specifically on the Dreyfus affair in France, the defections of Communist spies in the U.K., and the Rosenberg case in the United States, Carlston directly links twentieth-century tensions around citizenship to the social and political concerns of three generations of influential writers.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51009-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the fall of 2007, a small group of evangelical protesters arrived on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to preach. Most of the slogans on their placards were familiar variations on themes of sexual and cultural corruption, but one banner, which announced that “Homo Sex Is a Threat to National Security,” seemed to puzzle many who saw it. The protesters were, like the perplexed UNC students, too young to remember the 1950s, when that equation was evoked regularly by government officials and the media. And probably none of them knew that in claiming a...

    (pp. 11-48)

    Nations are usually unstable entities, imaginatively even when not territorially, and Jews have long been the paradigmatic “test case” troubling the edges of European national identities. In a more occluded and indirect fashion, Jews have played a similar role in the United States; furthermore, responses to male homosexuals and Communists in both Western Europe and America have been, and in the case of homosexuals continue to be, infused with the residue of memes both philo- and anti-Semitic. That is, for well over a century, representations of Jewishness, homosexuality, and Communism have been related genealogically as well as analogically. Homophobia and...

    (pp. 49-92)

    In France during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, abstract concerns about difference and its (il)legibility in the case of Jews coincided with material incitements to anti-Semitism in the form of several political and financial crises. Speculative bubbles popped, rousing public ire against rich Jews who were accused of manipulating the market.aIn particular, familiar stereotypes (newly underwritten by scientific authority) of scheming, greedy international Jewry were easily attached to a few powerful Jewish families like the Rothschilds who were especially visible in the financial and political worlds. When, in the midst of an economic depression, the Catholic...

    (pp. 93-140)

    It was Emile Zola who explicitly put sexual deviance, Jewishness, and treachery back together again after the Dreyfus Affair had settled down, who conjoined them and made them completely legible; Zola, passionate advocate of religious tolerance and the man so well known for his sympathetic interest in sexual nonconformity that the anonymous Italian homosexual who authoredRoman dun invertichose him to receive his confession; Zola, heroic defender of the liberal Republic or treasonous pornographer, depending on one’s perspective. Zola fictionalized the Affair in 1903 in a roman à clef entitledVérité,“Truth,and changed the crime with which the...

    (pp. 141-175)

    In the second half of this book I turn from the work of Marcel Proust to that of W. H. Auden and from fin-de-siècle France to Great Britain and America between the wars, with two consequent shifts in perspective. One is that in the next two chapters the topic of Jews and Jewishness will be held in abeyance until it resumes its crucial place in my argument in chapter 6, and in its place I will be dealing with Communism. This is primarily because Jewishness was not central to Auden’s prewar poetry, my subject here, and also because I need...

    (pp. 176-214)

    Four Englishmen are known with certainty to have been involved in the Soviet spy ring recruited at Cambridge University in the early 1930s: Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, who defected to Moscow together in 1951; H. A. R. “Kim” Philby, “the Third Man,” who defected in 1963; and Anthony Blunt, who was publicly denounced by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1979 but, because of an immunity agreement secretly arranged in the 1960s, was never prosecuted. All four were double agents, working for British intelligence for varying periods of time while also spying for the Soviets.aNumerous people have been named...

    (pp. 215-271)

    Plays and legal trials are so closely related generically that the phrasecourtroom dramamight almost be said to be a redundancy. Courtroom trials offer many of the same features as an ensemble theater piece: a fixed cast of characters, some central and some minor; set pieces of oratory delivered by trained speakers; an audience; and a narrative arc that is supposed to end in dramatic resolution, with a verdict and sentencing. Trial transcripts read very much like scripts, with dialogue and limited stage directions, and demand a similar interpretive effort from readers who have only the written text to...

    (pp. 272-282)

    Throughout this book I have been advancing three interrelated arguments. The first is that in the modern West—specifically in France, Great Britain, and the United States, although my analysis should apply to other developed nation-states as well—a distinct and peculiar position has been assigned to people considered to be marginal to the nation by virtue of some critical, but obscured, difference from “normal” citizens. The invisibly different are not necessarily more threatened, subjugated, or discriminated against than those who are identifiably Other; in many cases they are much less so. But because such people occupy a liminal space...

  13. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 283-284)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 285-300)
    (pp. 301-314)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 315-338)