Request for more LGBT content

Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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RuthieG
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Post by RuthieG » June 2nd, 2014, 5:12 am

Request via Twitter for more LGBT content. I asked for suggestions of possible PD works, but none have been forthcoming. However, I pass on the suggestion here for those interested in doing some research.

Ruth
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Availle
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Post by Availle » June 2nd, 2014, 5:32 am

I think the discussion came up before, and we came to the conclusion that - given our 1923 cutoff - it is very difficult to find literature that deals with LBGT to begin with, AND does so in a non-derogative way.

Oscar Wilde was gay, wasn't he? I am not aware of him writing anything in that respect - Reading Gaol was about his imprisonment for being gay, as far as I know...

The only book that we have - that I am aware of - that treats (male) homosexuality... I don't want to say favourably, that's not true, but... normally? Can I say that? Lots of things are left unspoken, but the protagonist is obviously gay and he is a nice person with deep feelings, apparently not something that was generally done at that time. Anyway, the book is great, and I will never tire of recommending it:

Better Angel by Richard Meeker, a pseudonym for Forman Brown, himself gay I think, so he definitely knows what he's talking about. The book is from 1933.
Cheers,
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MARTIN GEESON
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Post by MARTIN GEESON » June 2nd, 2014, 6:09 am

Ever since I joined LibriVox I've tried to unearth PD texts reflecting the LGBT experience. They are difficult to come by. A few readers have managed to record works which somehow found their way into print - here is one superb example:
https://librivox.org/better-angel-by-richard-meeker/
Hopefully, an American reader will one day choose Alec Waugh's The Loom of Youth (publ. 1917; author died 1981).

Ironically, a number of the most significant texts have been recorded by readers who are not themselves gay (or male):
https://librivox.org/in-memoriam-ahh-by-alfred-lord-tennyson/

And of course the debate around historical conceptions of homosexuality necessarily arises, when dealing with a catalogue of works limited to books published prior to 1923. For example, I intend one day to record the umpteenth LibriVox version of Shakespeare's Sonnets...

Alas, the love that dared not speak its name did not appeal to many publishers. I have tried to swell the LibriVox canon of works by/about Oscar Wilde. I steer clear of otherwise admirable figures like Edward Carpenter, whose gender-based conception of homosexuality jars with our modern ideas. The 'Greek Love' model of the late 19th century also has its pitfalls, since its concentration on pederasty places a reader in peril of being assumed to harbour paedophilic sympathies.

I would be very interested to know what other LV readers make of this topic.

Best
Martin

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Post by Availle » June 2nd, 2014, 6:15 am

Digging a bit on wikipedia, we'd have Virginia Woolf's Orlando, which is not PD in the US (1928), and Marcel Proust (whose writings are PD for LV). It says about him on wikipedia:
wikipedia wrote: Proust, who was a closeted homosexual, was one of the first European novelists to feature homosexuality openly and at length, in the parts of À la recherche du temps perdu which deal with the Baron de Charlus.
The first volume of "In search of lost time" is a duet and only needs two more sections for completion, so it should be done soon. Unfortunately, the other parts of this series are available on project gutenberg only in French...
Cheers,
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Post by Carolin » June 2nd, 2014, 6:25 am

we have two books completed and one in progress by lily dougall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_dougall
https://librivox.org/author/10105
Wikipedia wrote:She lived in Montreal from 1897 to 1903 until she finally settled down in Cumnor, near Oxford, in 1911. While there, she lived her life with her lesbian partner, Sophie Earp.
(...)
Her fiction is characterized by twists of fate, disguise, hidden identity and disillusioned love. More noteworthy, however, her work is known for its exploration of religious and philosophical themes. Many of her protagonists are strong, independent females who are typically drawn to the idea of egalitarian marriage.
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Post by RuthieG » June 2nd, 2014, 6:31 am

I have pointed our Twitter correspondent (who, by the way, greatly enjoyed both Better Angel and Tim) to this thread.

Ruth
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Post by Carolin » June 2nd, 2014, 6:40 am

Wikipedia wrote:The 20th century British author E.M. Forster earned a prominent reputation as a novelist while concealing his own homosexuality from the broader British public. In 1913-1914, he privately penned Maurice, a bildungsroman that follows a young, upper-middle-class man through the self-discovery of his own attraction to other men, two relationships, and his interactions with an often uncomprehending or hostile society. The book is notable for its affirming tone and happy ending. "A happy ending was imperative," wrote Forster, "...I was determined that in fiction anyway, two men should fall in love and remain in it for the ever and ever that fiction allows.... Happiness is its keynote." The book was not published until 1971, after Forster's death.
:roll:

emphasis added.
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Post by Lucy_k_p » June 2nd, 2014, 3:13 pm

Amy Levy was a lesbian, although her novel, Reuben Sachs, doesn't use this as a theme. (It's about Jewishness and feminism instead.) We have the novel and a book of her poetry.

I've only just learnt of Anne Lister a few days ago. Apparently she kept very explicit diaries about her love affairs with women, but the only versions that are online seem to be transcriptions/translations (she kept parts in code) with a new copyright.

Gertrude Stein was a lesbian, although she had some not particularly pleasant ideas about what that meant. (Basically the 'creative impulse' was masculine, so lesbians were the only women masculine enough to produce great literature.) We have a few things by her in the catalogue, including Miss Furr and Miss Skeene from Geography and Plays, which is about two women who have a gay time together.

Vernon Lee (A.K.A Violet Paget) is another lesbian. We have a few items by her. I have no idea if there are any LGBT themes in them.

Vita Sackville-West was bisexual. We have one book of her poems, and some of her other writings are PD in America but not recorded.

And of course Virginia Woolf was also bisexual. Orlando, which is PD in Europe but not in America, does explore the subject. I think many of her other works hint at it as well.

As for Oscar Wilde, his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is considered to be very homoerotic.

And I would like to add my own recommendation for Better Angel, which is a thoughtful portrayal of a blossoming gay relationship.

I too would like more LGBT themed works (and more workd by LGBT authors, even if they don't have LGBT themes.) The problem is finding the things. Although I have discovered that I know of more lesbian and bisexual female authors from the late 1800s/early 1900s than I realised.
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Post by annise » June 2nd, 2014, 4:43 pm

I think the blogger wanted more things about the subject , rather than the sexuality of the authors though .

Anne

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Post by BellonaTimes » June 2nd, 2014, 6:24 pm

One has to read between the lines to find the true meaning. De Profundis is supposed to be about Wilde's affair with Bosie, or so said the US game show Jeopardy this evening in an answer about literary memoirs.

There are other writings by GLB (T's didn't really exist until Christine Jorgensen) authors pre-'23 that have implicit sexuality. I'll have to do some sleuthing...

btw, I've found a small cache of Hart Crane pre-23, if that helps. :)
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MARTIN GEESON
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Post by MARTIN GEESON » June 3rd, 2014, 12:14 am

annise wrote:I think the blogger wanted more things about the subject , rather than the sexuality of the authors though .

Anne
In the decades preceding the 1923 cut-off, homosexuality was still in the process of being medicalized (i.e. pathologized) and, in the case of males, criminalized. This depressing history is documented by John Addington Symonds:
https://librivox.org/a-problem-in-modern-ethics-by-john-addington-symonds/

Volume 2 of Havelock Ellis' magnum opus deals with Sexual Inversion:
https://librivox.org/studies-in-the-psychology-of-sex-volume-2-by-havelock-ellis/

The traditional model of Greek Love (pederasty) is covered in:
https://librivox.org/the-greek-view-of-life-by-goldsworthy-lowes-dickinson/

When reading some of this contorted, alienating stuff I cannot help rejoicing on behalf of the young men and women I see about on my visits to Brighton, for whom sexuality is no longer this grim lifelong struggle with self-definition and self-loathing.

Martin

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Post by Piotrek81 » June 3rd, 2014, 1:06 am

Is this supposed to be only about realistic fiction and non-fiction? I guess we could find some fantastic-themed fiction with LGBT motiffs too in our catalogue. One example which comes to my mind is "Carmilla" by Sheridan Le Fanu.
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Post by MARTIN GEESON » June 3rd, 2014, 2:30 am

Having so far neglected the L and T in LGBT, I'd also like to mention a couple of short Balzac works:

https://librivox.org/girl-with-the-golden-eyes-the-by-honore-de-balzac/
https://librivox.org/sarrasine-by-honore-de-balzac/

There is quite a crop of queer/ambivalent characters in Balzac's marvellous Comédie Humaine, which may reflect the author's own insider knowledge and experience. Thanks to the herculean efforts of Bernard and ezwa, the whole sequence of novels is being recorded in French for LibriVox; and a few of the novels are also available in translation:

https://librivox.org/le-pere-goriot-by-honore-de-balzac/
English version: https://librivox.org/father-goriot-by-honore-balzac/

https://librivox.org/scenes-de-la-vie-de-province-tome-iv-by-honore-de-balzac-1303/ (Illusions Perdues, featuring Vautrin from Père Goriot)

A German version of Sarrasine: https://librivox.org/sarrasine-by-honore-de-balzac-2/

Sorry to ramble on...

Martin

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Post by TriciaG » June 3rd, 2014, 5:56 am

When reading some of this contorted, alienating stuff I cannot help rejoicing on behalf of the young men and women I see about on my visits to Brighton, for whom sexuality is no longer this grim lifelong struggle with self-definition and self-loathing.
I realize that people have strong feelings about this, but can we please keep the editorializing out of it? I know there are people who read this who are itching to counter it, and we don't want to get sidetracked by controversial debates. :)
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Post by Lucy_k_p » June 3rd, 2014, 6:05 am

I think the blogger wanted more things about the subject , rather than the sexuality of the authors though .
I mostly listed them because I am unfamiliar with their particular works, but expected that LGBT authors would be more likely than others to deal with the subject at all, never mind sympathetically. So it was a place for the requester to start looking.

Also, thanks to spotting her name in a different thread, I am reminded that we do have some of the poetry of Sappho, which is love poetry from one woman to another.
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