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

     
Symonds, John Addington (1840-1893)  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Consequently, in the second British printing later in 1897, Symonds was removed as coauthor and identified in the text only as "Z" (a "friend" to whom Ellis is "more especially indebted"), the appendix on Ulrichs was retained (but now authored by "Z"), and A Problem in Greek Ethics was deleted.

Symonds was never listed again on the title page of Sexual Inversion, which eventually became Part Two of Volume II of Ellis's collected Studies in the Psychology of Sex.

Sponsor Message.

Symonds's Reputation

These events could be a parable of Symonds's reputation in the decades after his death. Surreptitious reprints of A Problem in Modern Ethics and A Problem in Greek Ethics appeared in England in 1901 and 1896, respectively, and a reprint of A Problem in Greek Ethics appeared in Holland in 1908, suggesting continued interest in Symonds's work among an underground of homosexual readers.

Discreet biographies by Horatio Brown (1895) and Van Wyck Brooks (1914) were also published. But Symonds's standing faded in the first half of the twentieth century.

Interest in him began to revive only in the 1960s, with Phyllis Grosskurth's then pathbreaking biography (1964), the first to discuss any Victorian homosexual frankly; and Herbert M. Schueller and Robert L. Peters's invaluable three-volume collection of Symonds's letters (1967-1969). It has swelled with the emergence of gay studies.

Conclusion

Symonds was aware of his "persistent passion for the male sex" from his earliest erotic recollections, but his pioneering homosexual work was not accomplished without considerable strain against, and concession to, the "social law" of his time, which "regarded this love as abominable and unnatural."

Among these strains and concessions were his unwitting precipitation of the homosexual scandal that drove Charles John Vaughan from the headmastership of Harrow in 1859; his 1864 marriage and eventual fathering of four children; his persistent health crises, leading to a diagnosis of tuberculosis in 1865 and a move to the Swiss Alps in 1877; his 1868 mental breakdown and contemplation of suicide.

But those developments must be seen together with positive milestones like his mettle in writing to William Johnson (later Cory) in 1859 after reading Ionica and "exposing the state of my feelings and asking his advice"; his relationships with Willie Dyer, Alfred Brooke, Norman Moor (with whom he had his first experience of sexual intercourse with another male, at the age of twenty-nine), and Angelo Fusato; his monumental, seven-volume, Renaissance in Italy (1875-1886), the first full-scale study of the subject in English, which gained him his greatest professional recognition.

Symonds's work poses an interesting challenge to the currently dominant argument in gay studies that homosexuality and homosexuals are late nineteenth-century "inventions," functions chiefly of that period's new "medicalization of homosexuality," with its coining of the actual terminology of "homosexuality."

But in his Memoirs, Symonds clearly presents himself as someone with a de facto homosexual orientation and a definite sense of social difference because of it long before the new sexological literature that started to burgeon in the late 1880s.

That literature was available at the time of his Memoirs, however, so Symonds could have been influenced by it as he wrote the book. But in the Memoirs chapters concerned most analytically with his sexual development and awareness, Symonds inserted statements in the manuscript indicating that he had not yet read the new sexologists when he wrote them.

Perhaps even more significant, the new terminology of "homosexuality" is completely absent from Symonds's self-portrait in the Memoirs. His favorite terminology for his orientation there are either earlier categorical language like "masculine love" or extended descriptive phrases that amount to direct de facto denotations of the subject, like "passion between males" or "a man's love for a man."

We need to look elsewhere to explain Symonds's early and persistent search for "men constituted like me" and for positive images of homosexuality and his status as the first and foremost nineteenth-century British homosexual writer to "put the facts on record . . . so that fellow-sufferers . . . should feel that they are not alone."

Joseph Cady

  <previous page   page: 1  2  3    

    
 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:  Aestheticism

A theory of art and an approach to living that influenced many European and American gay male and lesbian writers at the turn of the twentieth century, aestheticism stressed the independence of art from all moral and social conditions and judgments.

literature >> Overview:  Autobiography, Gay Male

In its first century of existence, gay male autobiography has become increasingly more open, frank, and unapologetic.

literature >> Overview:  Censorship

Governments, publishers, editors, and even gay writers themselves have censored gay content in literature from the Renaissance to the present.

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.

literature >> Overview:  Ethnography

Ethnography, the description of indigenous non-European peoples by Euro-Americans, has been a safe way for writers to discuss homosexuality as a normal, non-pathological behavior.

literature >> Overview:  Poetry: Gay Male

The gay tradition in literature from ancient times to the present is primarily a tradition not of prose but of verse.

literature >> Overview:  Travel Literature

Travel has afforded gays and lesbians both freedom from the restraints of their own cultures and the erotic stimulus of exotic sexual customs and partners.

social sciences >> Overview:  United Kingdom I: The Middle Ages through the Nineteenth Century

The United Kingdom has a rich and vibrant legacy of queer cultural expression despite a long history of severe legal sanctions against male-male sexual acts and other manifestations of sexual and gender deviance.

literature >> Overview:  Uranian Poets

The Uranian poets, who lived and wrote from the close of the Victorian era to the middle of the interwar period, celebrated love for adolescent boys.

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 >> Bruno, Giordano

Burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church, Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno has been seen as a martyr to religious intolerance; only recently has he also been recognized as a queer hero.

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.

arts >> Correggio (Antonio Allegri)

One of the most innovative Italian painters of the sixteenth century, Corregio (Antonio Allegri) devised a highly original manner than anticipates the Baroque style of the seventeenth century.

literature >> Dickinson, Goldsworthy Lowes

Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a Cambridge classicist and friend of E. M. Forster, is significant for the glbtq legacy as the author of an immensely popular book on ancient Greece and a posthumously published, surprisingly frank autobiography.

literature >> Douglas, Alfred Bruce

Lord Alfred Douglas is remembered today for his tumultuous association with Oscar Wilde and as a minor poet.

social sciences >> Ellis, Havelock

Henry Havelock Ellis--British psychologist and writer--was one of the first modern thinkers to challenge Victorian taboos against the frank and objective discussion of sex.

literature >> James, Henry

Though closeted, Henry James had a number of intimate relations with young men, and his sexual orientation imbued his fiction.

literature >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

Best known for his genius in art and architecture, Michelangelo was also an accomplished author of homoerotic poetry.

literature >> Swinburne, Algernon Charles

Algernon Charles Swinburne was interested in flagellation, sadomasochism, bisexuality, and lesbianism, not only for their erotics but also as gestures of social and cultural rebellion.

social sciences >> Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich

Nineteenth-Century German activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was both the first modern theorist of homosexuality and the first homosexual to "come out" publicly.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.


    Bibliography
   

Cady, Joseph. "'What Cannot Be': John Addington Symonds's Memoirs and Official Mappings of Victorian Homosexuality." Victorian Newsletter 81 (Spring 1992): 47-51.

Ellis, Havelock, and John Addington Symonds. Sexual Inversion. London: Wilson and Macmillan, 1897. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1975.

Grosskurth, Phyllis. The Woeful Victorian: A Biography of John Addington Symonds. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964.

Kemble, John, ed. John Addington Symonds: Culture and the Demon Desire. New York: St. Martin's, 2000.

Reade, Brian, ed. Sexual Heretics: Male Homosexuality in English Literature from 1850 to 1900. New York: Coward-McCann, 1971.

Schueller, Herbert M., and Robert L. Peters, eds. The Letters of John Addington Symonds. 3 vols. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1967-1969.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Cady, Joseph  
    Entry Title: Symonds, John Addington  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated September 14, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/symonds_ja.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.