Derek Duncan's timely study is the first book in English to examine constructions of male homosexuality in Italian literature. In admirably clear and elegant prose, Duncan analyzes texts ranging from the 1890s through the 1990s. He brings canonical authors like D'Annunzio and Pasolini together with under-appreciated writers like Comisso, and also looks at less conventionally literary genres. Duncan takes on the thorny theoretical issues surrounding questions of gay identity and also provides a sound historical context for his discussion of how Italian narrative sheds light on Italian homosexuality and on the broader issues attending contemporary sexuality, including complicating factors such as race. While the early texts considered were produced at a historical moment when 'homosexuality' as a culturally meaningful entity had yet to crystallize, recent autobiographies show the authors reflecting explicitly on questions of gay identity and what it means to be a homosexual male in present-day Italy. In charting the emergence of the homosexual in twentieth-century Italy, however, Duncan's focus is less on questions of identity than on the meaning attributed to sex between men in the broader cultural context. His book is a significant contribution to Italian literary criticism and to gender, gay, and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: Reading and writing Italian homosexuality: something like a subject; Choice objects: the bodies of Gabriele D'Annunzio; Race and the fictions of homosexuality; Travelling with Fascism: the 'strange couplings' of Giovanni Comisso; The little boys' room: Pasolini's approach to homosexuality; Pier Vittorio Tondelli: nationalizing the gay body; Speaking out: the subject of gay autobiography; Afterword: possible subjects; Bibliography; Index.
'At last queer theory meets the fictions of modern Italy and the results are dazzling. Duncan’s smart, critically cautious readings trace the labored emergence of a queer Italian subject entangled in the webs of nationalism, fascism, gender, the body, and racisms old and new. This book brings Italian Studies into the new millennium.' Gary P. Cestaro, DePaul University, USA and Editor of Queer Italia: Same-Sex Desire in Italian Literature and Film ’Derek Duncan weaves an elegant and thought-provoking narrative which establishes Italian homosexuality as a viable field of research... Duncan's close readings are sensitive and cogent, and his contribution to the field therefore undeniable... Reading and Writing italian Homosexuality deserves to be praised for providing an insightful and pioneering discussion of the homosexual presence in modern Italian literature.’ Modern Language Review