naraht: (Default)
[personal profile] naraht
I have a bunch of books out of the library now so there's more where this came from...

Website: The Trials of Oscar Wilde
Includes some of Wilde's love letters, significant excerpts from his trials, and other resources.

A quote from his testimony in the first criminal trial:

G--What is the "Love that dare not speak its name"?

W--"The Love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as the "Love that dare not speak its name," and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.


Interesting to note that Holmes/Watson *doesn't* quite fit his definition...

Merlin Holland. The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
Haven't read this yet but it's the full, uncensored transcript of the libel trial. Looks to be very useful.

Karl Beckson. London in the 1890s: A Cultural History.
Not an academic book but a good general guide to the major cultural and literary currents of the period. Includes chapters on socialism, prostitution, the New Woman, the cult of Wagner, the occult, and so on. Particularly relevant to this community's interests, there are also chapters on: Decadence, the Uranians, and Wilde's trials.

An interesting passage:

In the late 1880s and 1890s, there were many popular novels that, as one critic states, "featured male duos and trios acting as collective heroes," the response to an increasing sense among men that "their prowess [was] being threatened, rather than flattered, by women," who were increasingly asserting themselves. Such male companionships and solidarity were celebrated in King Solomon's Mines, Three Men in a Boat, A Study in Scarlet, Trilby and Dracula. Because of the Wilde trials, WT Stead feared that such emotional relationships between men would be suspected as homosexual. To Edward Carpenter [!], he wrote: "A few more cases like Oscar Wilde and we should find the freedom of comradeship now possible to men seriously impaired to the permanent detriment of the race."


Oliver S. Buckton. Secret Selves: Confession and Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Autobiography
Really fascinating book on how the practice of secrecy in writing can reveal what seems to be concealed and conceal what seems to be revealed. Chapters on Newman, Wilde, Symonds, Carpenter and (in an epilogue) Forster. Writers of first person Holmes/Watson could find this very useful in terms of thinking about how Victorian authors conceptualized and wrote about same-sex desire.
damned_colonial: The lamp outside 221B Baker St (221b)
[personal profile] damned_colonial
(How much am I loving these discussion threads? THIS MUCH! If you have any more ideas for interesting discussion topics, post them in the discussion prompt gathering thread.)

This is a spin-off discussion that came up in comments on the H/W pairing as type or trope post from a week or so back. You can see the comment thread here.

[personal profile] ingridmatthews wrote:

Book!Canon Watson admits that he is of 'a Bohemian mind', considering himself an writer/artist first, doctor/soldier/husband second. His life with Holmes is considered an exercise in classic Bohemianism, at least to Watson. His attachment to Holmes is partly due to his rejection of rigid male roles, making him queerly delicious.


and...

To be a classic Victorian Bohemian is to place oneself outside of conventions that are supposed to control your life from the moment of waking to what you wear to sleep. For him to self-identify as one is a big thing, at least from my understanding of the movement, which stresses independent thought, rejection of social mores and stress on intellectual arts over appearances (which were *everything* to a Victorian).

Holmes is described as a perfect Bohemian because his use of his vast intellect is his art. (Being a big old drug addict, social disaster and slob probably added to the effect. ;) Watson may be more concerned than Holmes about his standing in society, but like wrabbit said above, there is a little something about him that simply doesn't fit into the Victorian puzzle.


What do we know about bohemianism in the late 19th century? Can anyone recommend things to read on the subject? (I'll mention Cook's "London and the Subculture of Homosexuality", which has a couple of chapters on on Wilde, decadence, aestheticism, bohemianism, Paris, etc.)

To what extent did Holmes and/or Watson actually fit the bohemian stereotype? Does their bohemianism signal queerness? Is that something that readers of the time would have picked up on (think of the publicity around the Wilde trials)? Is Holmes's bohemianism/outsiderness important to his role as detective? And what on earth does Mrs Hudson think?

Discuss!

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Queering Holmes

July 2010

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