Arguing for renewed attention to covert same-sex-oriented writing (and to authorial intention more generally), this study explores the representation of female and male homosexuality in late sixteenth- through mid-eighteenth-century British and French literature. The author also uncovers and analyzes long-term continuities in the representation of same-sex love, sex, and desire between the classical, early modern, eighteenth-century, and even modern periods. Among the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century authors and texts examined here are Mme de Murat, Les Memoires De Madame La Comtesse De M*** (1697); John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748-49); Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748); Nicolas Chorier and Jean Nicolas, L'Academie des dames (1680); Delarivier Manley, The New Atalantis (1709); and Isaac de Benserade, Iphis et Iante (1637). Classical texts brought into the discussion include Juvenal's Satires, Lucian's Erotes, and, most importantly, Ovid's Metamorphoses. Casting its net broadly yet exploring deeply-poems, plays, novels, and more; from the serious to the satiric, the polite to the pornographic; well-known and little-known; written in English, French, and Latin; published in early modern and eighteenth-century Britain and France; plus key classical texts-this study engages with the historiography of sexuality as a whole.
"Robinson argues bravely for the validity of ’continuist’ approaches, re-engaging the once discredited notion of authorial intention, along with historical contextualisation and close reading, to illuminate poetry, fiction and drama from his clustered classical, Early Modern and eighteenth-century periods." Sophie Tomlinson, University of Auckland
"Robinson is a worthy successor to Sedgwick in his dedication to reparative rather than paranoid readings: he seeks to repair the rendering of early modern same-sex sexual desire as unknowable and insignificant and he brings together ‘both male and female homosexuality, and especially their interrelation in particular texts, as a sign of their interrelation in the cultural imagination of particular times and places’ (p. xi). Robinson has written a book that will be difficult to ignore by those who write on same-sex desire in this period: his book should prove to be either a launch pad or a stumbling block for those who follow in his wake." Katherine O’Donnell, University College Dublin, Ireland
Contents: Preface; Part I: Intentionality: Closeted Homosexual Writing: Chapter 1: Closeted writing before 'the closet'; Chapter 2: 'Philips-Lover' and the abominable Madame de Murat; Chapter 3: The closeting of closeting: Cleland, Smollett, sodomy, and the critics. Part II: Intentionality: Closeted Homophobic Writing: Chapter 4: Pornographic homophobia: L'Academie des dames and the deconstructing lesbian; Chapter 5: 'For how can they be guilty?': the sophisticated homophobia of Manley's New Atalantis. Part III: Continuity: Chapter 6: Metamorphosis and homosexuality I: Ovid's 'Iphis and Ianthe' and related tales; Chapter 7: Metamorphosis and homosexuality II: Iphis, Ianthe, and others on the early modern stage. Postscript; Bibliography; Index.