Secret Selves: Confession and Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Autobiography
Focusing on the representation of same-sex desire in Victorian autobiographical writing, Oliver Buckton offers significant new readings of works by some of the most influential figures in late-nineteenth-century literature and culture. Combining original research, careful historical analysis, and contemporary theories of autobiography, gender, and sexual identity, he provides nuanced studies of confessional narratives by Edward Carpenter, John Henry Newman, John Addington Symonds, Oscar Wilde, and, in an epilogue, E. M. Forster.
By examining the "confessional" elements of these writings, Buckton brings "secrecy" into focus as a central and productive component of autobiographical discourse. He challenges the conventional view of secrecy as the suppression of information, instead using the term to suggest an oscillation between authorial self-disclosure and silence or reserve--a strategy for arousing the reader's interest and establishing a relation based on shared knowledge while deferring or displacing the revelation of potentially incriminating and scandalous desires. Though their
disclosures of same-sex desire jeopardized the cultural privilege granted these writers by Victorian codes of authorship and masculinity, their use of secrecy, Buckton shows, allowed them to protect themselves from Victorian stigma and to challenge prevailing constructions of sexual identity.
Originally published in 1998.
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aesthetic Algy Anglo-Catholicism Apologia appears argues attack autobiography biography Bosie Bosie's Carpenter's sexual Catholicism celibacy central Charles Kingsley confession confessional construction context critical cultural Days and Dreams Dellamora described disclosure discourse displaced Dollimore Dorian Gray Douglas E. M. Forster Earnest Edelman Edward Carpenter effeminacy episode erotic example fact feminine fiction Forster friends gender Greek Gribsby Harrow heterosexual homosexual Hukin Ibid ideal influence Intermediate Sex Jack John Henry Newman Kingsley Kingsley's Koestenbaum literary Lord Alfred Douglas male manliness masculine Maurice Memoirs Millthorpe moral narrative nature Newman novel O’Brien Oscar Wilde Oxford Oxford movement passion perverse play poem political prison letter Profundis published reader reading relationship religious reveal rhetorical role Rowbotham and Weeks same-sex desire scandal secrecy secret Sedgwick sexual desire Sexual Inversion significance sion social Socialist specific suggests Symonds Symonds's textual tion transgressive trials Vaughan Victorian Whitman Wilde's working-class writing wrote