Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer on hysteria, J.A. Symonds and Havelock Ellis on sexuality, a novel by Ford Madox Ford and Joseph Conrad, The Waste Land of T.S. Eliot (and Ezra Pound), even the Lyrical Ballads of Wordsworth and Coleridge: men making books together. Wayne Koestenbaum's startling interpretation of literary collaboration focuses on homosexual desire: men write together, he argues, in order either to express or to evade homosexual feelings. Their writing becomes a textual intercourse, the book at once a female body they can share and the child of their partnership. These man-made texts steal a generative power that women's bodies seem to represent.
Seen as the site of a struggle between homosexual and homophobic energies, the texts Koestenbaum explores – works of psychoanalysis, sexology, fiction, and poetry – emerge as more complex, more revealing. They crystallize and refract the anxiety of male sexuality at the end of the last century, and open up a deeper understanding of connections today between the erotic and the literary. Drawing upon the work of feminist critics, Koestenbaum connects male collaboration and the exchange of women within patriarchy: he peers into both medical texts and imaginative literature, disturbing our ready acceptance of the co-authored work. This strong and unsettling book transforms our understanding of the creative process, providing a new sense of what both collaborative and solitary artistry mean.
Interpreting Double Talk: An Introduction. Part 1. Men of Science 1. Privileging the Anus: Anna O. and the Collaborative Origin of Psychoanalysis 2. Unlocking Symonds: Sexual Inversion Part 2. Poetic Partnerships 3. The Marinere Hath His Will(iam): Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads 4. The Waste Land: T.S. Eliot’s and Ezra Pound’s Collaboration on Hysteria Part 3. The Hour of Double Talk 5. Manuscript Affairs: Collaborative Romances of the Fin de Siècle