Editors Galloway (A Family Album, Melody Jones) and Sabisch are clearly aiming at a high-literary, front-wave interpretive...

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CALAMUS: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Literature, An International Anthology

Editors Galloway (A Family Album, Melody Jones) and Sabisch are clearly aiming at a high-literary, front-wave interpretive anthology--of writings about homosexuality, not necessarily by homosexuals. Their historical introduction, indeed, is the book's strongest feature. They treat of classical and modern homosexual themes (schoolboy seduction, the handsome sailor, etc.); trace their lineage; establish a tradition. For the most part, the writers you'd expect to find are represented: Cavafy, Cocteau, Isherwood, Genet, Burroughs, Lorca. Of the more contemporary work (much of it by little-known Europeans), the most impressive poetry is that of Frank O'Hara (particularly ""Grand Central"": ""Now I am going to lie down/ like an expanse of marble floor/ covered with commuters and information:/ it is my vocation, you believe that,/ don't you? I don't have an American/ body, I have an anonymous body. . .""); the outstanding piece of prose is a snippet from Yves Navarre's brutal novel Sweet Tooth. But only two selections here--both classics, both about sex-and-power, both by masters who did not write only of homosexuality--are really major: D. H. Lawrence's story, ""The Prussian Officer,"" and an episode from Robert Musil's Young Torless. As literature, then, an undistinguished collection; but that long, encompassing introductory essay will reward those with a special interest.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1981

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Morrow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981