Are your fingers pointed or blunt?

P.N. Furbank

  • Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century by Graham Robb
    Picador, 342 pp, £18.99, November 2003, ISBN 0 330 48223 8

Graham Robb, who is well known for his biographies of Balzac, Victor Hugo and Rimbaud, has written a history of what he calls a ‘vanished civilisation’, his theme being that in the 19th century, although homosexual love and homosexual fraternising were hardly admitted to exist, except perhaps in court reports, they were an omnipresent and vital part of the national life. Moreover, homosexuals, whether male or female, were not invariably downtrodden and anxiety-ridden outcasts: there were those who, as can be seen from their letters and diaries, coped with their situation rationally, adeptly and happily.

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