Colm Toibin knows the languages of the outsider, the secret keeper, the gay man or woman. He knows the covert and overt language of homosexuality in literature. In "Love in a Dark Time," he also describes the solace of finding like-minded companions through reading.Toibin examines the life and work of some of the greatest and most influential writers of the past two centuries, figures whose homosexuality remained hidden or oblique for much of their lives, either by choice or necessity. The larger world couldn't know about their sexuality, but in their private lives, and in the spirit of their work, the laws of desire defined their expression.This is an intimate encounter with Mann, Baldwin, Bishop, and with the contemporary poets Thom Gunn and Mark Doty. Through their work, Toibin is able to come to terms with his own inner desires -- his interest in secret erotic energy, his admiration for courageous figures, and his abiding fascination with sadness and tragedy. Toibin looks both at writers forced to disguise their true experience on the page and at readers who find solace and sexual identity by reading between the lines.
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In Love in a Dark Time, Colm Tóibín appraises the life and work of nine highly influential writers and artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. These were figures for whom being gay seemed to come second in their public lives, either by choice or by necessity ? but in their private lives, in their own spirit, the laws of desire changed everything.
From Oscar Wilde, born in the 1850s, to Pedro Almodovar, born a hundred years later, this book studies how a changing world altered gay lives in ways both subtle and profound. Tóibín is drawn with sympathetic fascination to each of his subjects: to Elizabeth Bishop and her artistic triumph over her demons; to James Baldwin, whose own agent advised him to burn the manuscript for Giovanni?s Room; to Francis Bacon for his refusal to play the role of the ?tragic queer?; to unlovable Thomas Mann, victim of his biographers. Colm Tóibín interweaves close reading of the artist?s work with detailed analysis of the personality behind it to illuminating effect.
Colm Tóibín is the author of four novels: The Blackwater Lightship, The South, The Heather Blazing, and The Story of the Night, which won the 1998 Ferro-Grumley Award for best gay novel and is on the Lambda list of the 100 best gay novels of all time. In 1995, he received the E. M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Tóibín also wrote the nonfiction books Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border, Homage to Barcelona, and The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe and is the editor of the Anthology of Irish Literature. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.
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