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Bert Krus (Arnhem, the Netherlands)

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Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century
Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century
by Graham Robb
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On gay life 150 years ago, 2 Sep 2006
When Mister Graham Robb started his book on homosexual love in the 19th century he was suddenly faced with prejudices he never expected to learn from his friends and colleagues. People even felt pity with his family members. Dad goes gay! But not really. The way Robb handles this irritation is an eye opener and a foretaste of his analyzation on homosexuality for the rest of the book. In other words, Robb is great with chasing away dark clouds to let the sun shine in on this subject. He demonstrates it is the people's personal view on homosexuality which has hardly changed over the last ages. Only the position of homosexuals in public (debate) has improved.

A while ago I told a good friend of mine (he is a language scientist) that I would like to have a job in a gay bookstore. He replied: so you want to become a full time homosexual?! I couldn't believe my ears...

'Strangers' has teached me a lot. In fact, gay life looked actually quite the same 150 years ago. Networks and novels gave direction to many, however, in a coded language, not to discover by everybody. Hostility against gays was certainly not common. In fact, the great oppression of gays is a 20th century phenomenon which runs parallel with visible female - and gay liberation. The word "homosexual" didn't exist in the first part of the 19th century but this does not mean people didn't know the gay identity, they just referred to it differently with words like "sodomite" or "invert".

Highly enjoyable on "Strangers" is that Graham Robb is literary well matched to writers like Oscar Wilde or Hans Christian Anderson. It makes both notes and reflections big fun.

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