glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
home
arts
literature
social sciences
special features
discussion
about glbtq
   search

 
   Encyclopedia
   Discussion
 
 

   member name
  
   password
  
 
   
   Forgot Your Password?  
   
Not a Member Yet?  
   
JOIN TODAY. IT'S FREE!

 
  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy
  Copyright

 

 

 

 

 
literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
English Literature: Twentieth-Century  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  

Thom Gunn

The major English literary career of the last decades of the twentieth century remains that of the poet Thom Gunn (b. 1929), whose life and work recapitulates many gay traditions since Carpenter. In his early years as a poet, Gunn pays homage to virile archetypes: ancient and contemporary versions of Carpenter's public-spirited homosexual Doric companions or samurai lovers.

But although caught up in heightened poetic narratives of heroic gay masculinity, Gunn has simultaneously felt the influence of Auden's and Isherwood's less heroically inflected commitments to general public responsibility, no less than responsibility to one's homosexual kind.

Sponsor Message.

After repeating Auden's and Isherwood's emigration to the United States and (thereby also echoing Lawrence's and Casement's separation from the claims of a fatherland), Gunn's poetry has relaxed its tough homoeroticized masculinism and has rendered an apparently fixed homosexual eros into forms of flexible aesthetic play and lyric pleasure.

The assault on the play and pleasure by the impact of AIDS on Gunn's San Francisco community has inspired response from the poet in the poems in The Man with Night Sweats (1992). The book's meditations on the specificity of gay life's current involvement with death and art are mediated by the finely wrought Audenesque formality and generously public-minded tone of the poetry.

Against the stress of mortality, Gunn recovers homosexual eros as the pleasure and dignity of an aesthetic counter-stress. The counter-stress, mingling pleasure and pain, perhaps is one of the latest variations of the intermediate type.

Robert L. Caserio

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9    

    
 interact  
   
Contact Us
 
Join the Discussion
 
 find 
   
Related Entries
 
More Entries by this contributor
 
A Bibliography on this Topic

 
Citation Information
 
More Entries about Literature
 
 


   Related Entries
  
literature >> Overview:  Camp

Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Nineteenth Century

From its beginning, the nineteenth century in England had a purposeful homosexual literature of considerable bulk, both male and female, though it was fettered by oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom II: 1900 to the Present

Twentieth-century efforts to reform British law and public opinions about homosexuality met with mixed results, but at the beginning of the twenty-first century the United Kingdom has emerged as a leader in recognizing the rights of its glbtq citizens.

literature >> Ackerley, J. R.

A twentieth-century British editor who fostered the careers of a number of important gay writers, J. R. Ackerley also wrote a small but significant body of gay literature that includes memoirs and drama.

literature >> Auden, W. H.

One of the most accomplished poets of the twentieth century, W. H. Auden found that his gayness led him to new insights into the universal impulse to love and enlarged his understanding of all kinds of relationships.

literature >> Barnes, Djuna

American novelist Djuna Barnes sought new forms of self-representation of lesbians in the face of society's compulsory heterosexuality.

literature >> Barney, Natalie Clifford

In addition to being the muse and inspiration of other writers, American expatriate Natalie Barney, known as the Amazon, was a poet, memoirist, and epigrammatist in her own right.

literature >> Bentham, Jeremy

The most notable law reformer in the English-speaking world, English philosopher, jurist, economist, and political scientist Jeremy Bentham argued for a tolerant attitude toward homosexuality in a series of papers first published in full in 1985.

literature >> Bowen, Elizabeth

Anglo-Irish novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Bowen sprinkled her fiction with people and relationships, usually coded, of either clear or ambiguous homosexuality.

literature >> Brooke, Rupert

The English poet Rupert Brooke was bisexual, reflecting his sexuality in both his letters and his poetry.

literature >> Brophy, Brigid

English novelist, essayist, and biographer Brigid Brophy was one of the 1960s' most daring voices in her explorations of the varieties of sexuality.

literature >> Carpenter, Edward

Edward Carpenter, a champion of both women's and homosexuals' liberation, was one of the great socialist visionaries of England at the turn of the twentieth century.

social sciences >> Casement, Roger

Irish patriot Roger Casement was executed by the British, who also used his diaries to expose him as a homosexual.

literature >> Chatwin, Bruce

The acclaimed prose style of travel writer and novelist Bruce Chatwin, a secretive bisexual, may have been developed as a means of hiding the truth of his sexuality.

literature >> Compton-Burnett, I.

The English lesbian novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett explored passionate friendship between two women in her first novel and included lesbian and gay characters in two later novels.

literature >> Coward, Sir Noël

Although Coward's plays are about heterosexual couples, they are written in the language and spirit of camp and reject traditional domestic values.

arts >> Coward, Sir Noël

Accomplished playwright, actor, composer, and lyricist, Sir Noël Coward was also a singer and cabaret performer; he dominated the British stage between the world wars, then reoriented his career in the direction of America.

literature >> Firbank, Ronald

Ronald Firbank's witty, campy novels mock the dominant homophobic, materialistic culture of early twentieth-century England.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

One of the finest English novelists of the twentieth century and a tireless defender of humane values, Forster deserves a special place in the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Gale, Patrick

English novelist Patrick Gale draws on his own varied background to explore gay men and lesbians in complex, often dysfunctional family units set within the worlds he finds most meaningful: London, Winchester, and Cornwall.

literature >> Gunn, Thom

The Anglo-American writer Thom Gunn was a major gay poet and a perceptive critic of gay poetry.

literature >> Hall, Radclyffe

Radclyffe Hall, who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written.

literature >> Hartley, L. P.

English novelist and short story writer L. P. Hartley created psychologically subtle works of fiction in which the danger of abandoning oneself to love is a recurrent theme.

literature >> Hollinghurst, Alan

Noted for his elegant prose style and subtle representations of moral ambiguities, Alan Hollinghurst has in recent years emerged as Great Britain's most significant contemporary gay novelist.

literature >> Isherwood, Christopher

A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement, Christopher Isherwood created gay characters whose homosexuality is a simple given, an integral part of the wholeness of personality and an emblem of their common humanity.

literature >> Kipling, Rudyard

Rudyard Kipling, England's "Laureate of Empire," fashioned himself as the conscience of the English-speaking world, but the great love of his life was a young man who spurned him and whose sister he married after his friend's sudden death.

literature >> Kureishi, Hanif

Although he does not employ the idiom of identity politics, Hanif Kureishi frequently gives gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals significant roles in his works.

literature >> Lambert, Gavin

Best known as a screenwriter, Gavin Lambert was also a novelist and biographer who captured the essence of life in the film community in a perceptive and witty fashion.

literature >> Lawrence, D. H.

For his time, D. H. Lawrence was a maverick in his open and adventurous discussion of all sexual issues and especially homosexuality, both male and female.

literature >> Lawrence, T. E.

Although he chose celibacy, Lawrence of Arabia formed close romantic attachments to young men.

literature >> Lehmann, John

One of the most distinguished and discerning British men of letters of the mid-twentieth century, John Lehmann is best known as an editor and publisher.

literature >> Mansfield, Katherine

Though Katherine Mansfield was reticent in the depiction of lesbianism in her short stories, she had close female friendships and was always deeply concerned with the status of women.

literature >> Mars-Jones, Adam

Author and editor Adam Mars-Jones has written short stories as well as longer fiction on gay themes, including AIDS.

literature >> Maugham, William Somerset

Frightened by the Oscar Wilde trial, Somerset Maugham avoided treating homosexual themes and characters in his novels and plays.

literature >> Mew, Charlotte

Charlotte Mew's poetry encodes the emotional pain of hiding her lesbian identity in a world of compulsory heterosexuality.

literature >> Orton, Joe

The gay British playwright Joe Orton, an important precursor of the queer literary movement, is perhaps the finest writer of farce in the twentieth century.

literature >> Owen, Wilfred

English war poet Wilfred Owen combined the homoeroticism latent in the elegy tradition with precise observation of the horror of trench warfare.

literature >> Rolfe, Frederick William

Frederick William Rolfe (Baron Corvo) is important for the gay literary heritage because of his distinctive decadent prose style, his outrageous decadent lifestyle, and his unashamed celebration of eroticized male friendships in his works.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

literature >> Sassoon, Siegfried

For war poet and memoirist Siegfried Sassoon, the grueling years of World War I left an indelible impression of devastation and futility that colored his entire life.

literature >> Scott, Paul

British novelist Paul Scott, acclaimed for The Raj Quartet, was a repressed homosexual who found in India a rich metaphor for the interior distances that must be traversed as one person seeks to connect with another.

arts >> Shaffer, Sir Peter

British dramatist Peter Shaffer emerged in the 1960s in the paradoxical guise of the last great twentieth-century poet of the numinous who was also capable of writing commercially successful plays that could be turned into equally successful films.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

literature >> Strachey, Lytton

The English biographer and essayist Lytton Strachey spoke openly of his homosexuality to his Bloomsbury friends, but his openly gay works were published only after his death.

literature >> Vivien, Renée

Renée Vivien, who had many affairs with women, openly celebrated lesboerotic love in her poetry and dreamed of women-controlled spaces in an era when most women were still domestically confined.

literature >> Warner, Sylvia Townsend

The poet, novelist, and short story writer Sylvia Townsend Warner is an important lesbian voice of the earlier twentieth century.

literature >> Waugh, Evelyn

Evelyn Waugh, who had homosexual affairs while at Oxford but later led a heterosexual life, treated homosexuals both nostalgically and contemptuously in his novels.

literature >> Welch, Denton

Largely autobiographical, the novels of Denton Welch are suffused with homosexuality.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

literature >> Wilson, Sir Angus

Scattered throughout the novels and short stories of Sir Angus Wilson are a number of gay characters who are presented from a decidedly nonapologetic gay viewpoint.

literature >> Winterson, Jeanette

Jeanette Winterson's prize-winning novels exploring lesbian and gender issues have quickly gained a following not only among lesbian and gay readers but also among mainstream readers as well.

social sciences >> Wolfenden Report

The Wolfenden Report, a 1957 British government study, recommended that homosexual behavior between consenting adults in private no longer be criminalized in England.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


    Bibliography
   

Boone, Joseph A., and Michael Cadden, eds. Engendering Men. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Brophy, Brigid. Prancing Novelist. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973.

Committee on Homosexual Offenses and Prostitution. The Wolfenden Report. New York: Stein and Day, 1963.

Caserio, Robert. The Novel in England, 1900-1950. New York: Twayne, 1998.

Cunningham, Valentine. British Writers of the Thirties. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Green, Martin. Children of the Sun: A Narrative of "Decadence" in England after 1918. New York: Basic Books, 1976.

Grey, Antony. Quest for Justice. London: Cassell, 1992.

Hobby, Elaine and Chris White, eds. What Lesbians Do in Books. London: Women's Press, 1991.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Homosexuality and Literature, 1890-1930. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1977.

Shepherd, Simon. Because We're Queers. London: Gay Men's Press, 1989.

Silverman, Kaja. Male Subjectivity at the Margins. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Summers, Claude J. Gay Fictions: Wilde to Stonewall. New York: Continuum, 1990.

Woods, Gregory. Articulate Flesh: Male Homo-eroticism and Modern Poetry. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Caserio, Robert L.  
    Entry Title: English Literature: Twentieth-Century  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated January 31, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/eng_lit6_20c.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

This Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

www.glbtq.com is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.