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 spiritual hypocrisy and country repression, and his innovative social imaginative and prescient, led him progressively to simply accept homosexuality as a vital part of human sexuality. within the method, Blake rejected the antihomosexual bias of British radical culture, revised his idealization of competitive male heterosexuality and his male-centered view of gender, and subtle his belief of the cooperative commonwealth.
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Additional info for Blake and Homosexuality
Then Oothoon pluck'd the flower saying, I pluck thee from thy bed Sweet flower. and put thee here to glow berween my breasts And thus I turn my face to where my whole soul seeks. (1:8-13) Nearly every interpreter has noted the flowers' sexual associations. Marigolds were emblems of fertility and marriage in contemporary texts and were also thought to emit light at dusk, while the May-flower was popularly supposed to protect fertility; S. Foster Damon notes that plucking a flower is "an ancient symbol for sexual experience" and views "Leutha's vale" as the female genitals (Dictionary 238, 265).
26 At the same time, arguably, the homoerotic enticement should be seen as more disturbing and more disruptive of desirable gender norms than a heterosexual temptation, since Satan has already indicated to Belial that the Son is of too "exalted mind" for such bait-"Therefore with manlier objects we must try I His constancy" (2:206, 225-26); the pun on "manly" Eighteenth-Century Homosexuality and the Republican Tradition 15 may be intentional. Thus while the banquet's lavishness would in any case denote love for things of this world, and specifically the empty love of luxury, the Ganymede-Hylas reference uses homosexuality as a specific sign of moral contagion.
Supplementing and partly disputing the pioneering work of Lillian Faderman, Emma Donoghue has argued for a self-aware lesbian tradition throughout the "long eighteenth century," in forms ranging from friendship to sex and under overlapping self-conceptions ranging from "a concept of sex acts between women to a concept of lesbian identity" (10, 20). More cautiously, work in progress by Susan S. Lanser argues that a sapphic identity emerged in stages throughout the century, first as an externally imposed category and ultimately as a "sapphic subjectivity ...
Blake and Homosexuality by Christopher Z. Hobson (auth.)