This post is by Colm Tóibín from Books | The Guardian
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Repressive laws overshadowing the bedroom and the bookshop ... a study of gay Victorians and ‘obscenity’
In the summer of 1892 the poet John Addington Symonds took his lover, a Venetian gondolier called Angelo Fusato, on a tour of Britain, including visits to country houses where Fusato posed as Symonds’s manservant. Symonds’s wife Catherine and his daughter were living safely in Davos at the time. After his first meeting with Fusato, Symonds wrote: “He was tall and wiry, but very slender … he was rarely in repose but moved with singular brusque grace … Great fiery eyes, gazing intensely, with compulsive effluence of electricity … He fixed and fascinated me.”
Love, however, did not transform itself automatically into art. Symonds wrote a bad sonnet in Fusato’s honour. (“Till, mother-naked, white as lilies, laid / There on the counterpane, he bade me use / Even as I willed, his body.”)Continue reading...