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Before the Closet Same-Sex Love from Beowulf to Angels in America cover
  • ISBN: 9780226260914
  • ISBN10: 0226260917

Before the Closet Same-Sex Love from Beowulf to Angels in America

by Allen J. Frantzen

  • List Price: $62.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 11/01/1998
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Description
Since the publication of John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, historians have accepted the view that the early Middle Ages tolerated and even fostered same-sex relations and that intolerance of homosexuality developed only late in the medieval period. In this extraordinary study, Allen J. Frantzen challenges this long-held belief, showing that early medieval Christians did not tolerate same-sex acts, and, furthermore, that men and women during this time who preferred homosexual relations pursued their desires in spite of official sanctions. The early medieval period was, Frantzen argues, an age before people recognized the existence -- or the possibility -- of the "closet".

With its ambitious scope and elegant style, Before the Closet focuses on Anglo-Saxon literature but also includes thoughtful examinations of contemporary opera, dance, and theatre. Instead of the closet, Frantzen employs the figure of the shadow to illustrate the coexistence of homosexual and heterosexual relations in the Middle Ages. He introduces this figure through an analysis of a man's part sung by a woman in operas such as Gounod's Faust and Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. He traces the reverse figure -- men taking women's parts -- in two dances by Mark Morris, The Hard Nut and Dido and Aeneas, and analyzes the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant in Tony Kushner's play Angels in America. Frantzen's wide-ranging study also includes such well-known poems as Beowulf and The Wanderer.

Erudite and provocative, this book offers a comprehensive analysis of sources from the seventh to the twelfth century and traces Anglo-Saxon same-sex behavior through the age of Chaucer and into the Renaissance.

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First printing, near fien in like jacket with both showing just a touch of shelf wear. 380 pages with illustrations. Attractive copy of this work on same-sex relations.
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