By Christopher Z. Hobson (auth.)
Against the backdrop of Britain's underground 18th and early-19th century gay tradition, mob persecutions, and executions of homosexuals, Hobson exhibits how Blake's hatred of sexual and non secular hypocrisy and kingdom repression, and his innovative social imaginative and prescient, led him steadily to simply accept homosexuality as an essential component of human sexuality. within the procedure, Blake rejected the antihomosexual bias of British radical culture, revised his idealization of competitive male heterosexuality and his male-centered view of gender, and sophisticated his perception of the cooperative commonwealth.
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Finally, Blake's early works already show a fascination with perverse sexuality. Under the impact of the extension of identification already referred to, such an interest may lead to a sense of the equivalency of several kinds of perversion. Hence, as Blake's early works progress, universalism and awareness of perversity act together to alter his sexual conceptions-to act as homosexuality itself acts for E. M. Forster's Maurice: "an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him" ("Terminal Note," 250-51).
The "circumstances, which we omit for obvious reasons" of the Times law report mentioned earlier recur over and over. In 1815, for instance, the Morning Chronicle reported the execution of ''A hoary miscreant, a workhouse pauper" for "a crime at which nature shudders, not a syllable of the evidence on which we can state" (qtd. by Harvey 942). Scientific and medical literature either avoided discussing male homosexuality and lesbianism at all or resorted to euphemism or passages in French or Latin (Porter and Hall3-4, 39, 102-103); nearly all the precedents supplied by the defense in Woods-Pirie v.
But, Rowland shows, Akenside's revisions after 1757, responding both to his own growing political conservatism and to criticisms by Smollett, produced an "obviously ... masculinized" work, in which "small verbal revisions remove the suggestion of sexuality and even gender" (137, 139). Even in highly disguised forms, possibilities for homoerotic expression in literature were meager. Two works from late in the century might seem to be partial exceptions: Beckford's Vathek (1786), with its lyric portrait of thirteen-yearold prince Gulchenrouz, "the most delicate and lovely creature in the world," with "sweet voice" and "the bashfulness of a fawn" (115-17), and Richard Payne Knight's Discourse on the Worship ofPriapus (1786), an illustrated investigation of pagan phallicism.
Blake and Homosexuality by Christopher Z. Hobson (auth.)