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Love Stories: Sex between Men before…

Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality

by Jonathan Ned Katz

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Showing 5 of 5
The scholarship is somewhat less than awesome, and he's terribly long-winded about his argument, but the real value of Katz's book is in the collection of 19th century primary source material (letters, news articles, testimony, etc.) on/from/between people he terms "men-loving men" (as homosexuality as the sociological construct we understand today didn't exist yet). I kind of wish the book were more about 19th century male/male eros and less about linguistics issues (i.e. the freedom to name an unspeakable act), but that lack of freedom to do so makes finding primary sources near impossible...so yeah, catch-22. Definitely a fascinating look at 19th century m/m love.

* The poetry tag is included due to over half the book focusing on Walt Whitman, his work, his letters, and his sex life. (Walt's archives are huge.) ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
Great insight on how men-loving men struggled for wording to properly express their desires and emotions in a more positive light than society would allow at the time. Katz was careful to stress the difference of what was acceptable in society then and now when it came to the affection between men and/or their behavior. It served as a helpful reminder of what these men were saying in their original context rather than how it may sound in respect to today's thinking. I very much appreciated his care of adding a disclaimer to any speculations offered when interpreting letters and other such written works of the subjects of his study. ( )
  ofstoneandice | Jul 28, 2010 |
I've often heard it claimed that we can't use terms like homosexuality to describe people before that label existed and it wasn't until I read this book that I fully understood why. The stories and letters contained in this book are extraordinary. For anyone interested in the history of sexuality, this is a must-read. ( )
  HGregory | Jun 3, 2010 |
This book had been one of my "to read" lists for a couple of years now but as it wasn't readily available in the libraries round here, I wasn't sure if I would ever have a chance to read it. But then I searched for second-hand copies online and bought it.

I must admit that the title misled me, to an extent. Yes, Katz is writing about sex between men before homosexuality but his study has much more specific focus than I originally thought - nineteenth-century America. Unsurprisingly, Walt Whitman features quite heavily in the book, for which reason we get something on John Addington Symonds and even a little on Edward Carpenter.

A fascinating book that I've been reading leisurely in bed before going to sleep. ( )
1 vote mari_reads | Sep 2, 2006 |
titillating ( )
  maledei | Oct 31, 2005 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226426165, Paperback)

In Love Stories, Jonathan Ned Katz presents stories of men's intimacies with men during the nineteenth century—including those of Abraham Lincoln—drawing flesh-and-blood portraits of intimate friendships and the ways in which men struggled to name, define, and defend their sexual feelings for one another. In a world before "gay" and "straight" referred to sexuality, men like Walt Whitman and John Addington Symonds created new ways to name and conceive of their erotic relationships with other men. Katz, diving into history through diaries, letters, newspapers, and poems, offers us a clearer picture than ever before of how men navigated the uncharted territory of male-male desire.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:29 -0400)

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