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Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (Studies in the History of Sexuality) Paperback – March 5, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0195122923 ISBN-10: 0195122925

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Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (Studies in the History of Sexuality) + Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy (Studies in the History of Sexuality) + Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women (The New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in the History of Sexuality
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 5, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195122925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195122923
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

From the fiery sermons of Bernadino of Siena, Savanarola, as well as from general gossip, modern students of 15th-century Italy have long suspected that Florence witnessed a great amount of sodomy. Rocke, an independent scholar teaching in Florence, persuasively demonstrates that "homosexual behavior constituted a pervasive and integral part of male sexual experience, of the construction of male sexual identity, and forms of sociability." Using the city's rich judicial records, especially those of the Office of the Night, a magistracy set up to root out sodomy, Rocke shows that between 1432 and 1502 perhaps 17,000 men?or one in two in a total population of about 40,000?came to the attention of civil authorities for homosexual acts. Rocke presents a careful and nuanced appreciation of language and concepts of gender and sexual roles, but a solid conclusion would have further strengthened his case. The value of this highly important study rests on the book's lucid prose and its learned contribution to our understanding of human, or at least Western, sexuality.?Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington D.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"A fascinating and groundbreaking study of the archives of the Office of the Night....All levels."--Choice


"Rocke presents a careful and nuanced appreciation of language and concepts of gender and sexual roles.... The value of this highly important study rests on the book's lucid prose and its learned contribution to our understanding of human, or at least Western, sexuality."--Library Journal


"This is a superb work of scholarship, impossible to overpraise.... It marks a milestone in the 20-year rise of gay and lesbian studies."--The Advocate



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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The important and significant thing about this book is the wealth of careful analysis and the abundance of amusing and fascinating anecdotes.
Francis J Kramer Jr
Michael Rocke's tome on male culture and sexuality in Renaissance Florence is a tremendous work that provides exceptional insight into male sexuality.
Richard Harrold
Rocke’s narrative suggests that influential families had their share of sodomites, who could be convicted only with great cost and difficulty.
Anthony C. Graziano

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I won't hide my praise; this book is a masterpiece in the study of male-male sexuality in the Renaissance. Finally, due to some historically fortuitous and unfortunately rare records, some one has provided firm demographic evidence on the phenomenon in one major city. These demographics settle a number of thorny questions that have plagued the field since its inception. Over two-thirds the male population of Renaissance Florence was involved in pederasty. We are not dealing with a small but relatively free homosexual minority; instead, the average Florentine Renaissance male, regardless of sexual orientation, engaged in some form of sex with males. This book is essential not only to those interested in the Renaissance but also to all interested in ancient (Western) history. Those interested in ancient Greece and Rome in particular will be fascinated to learn that Greek practices are still very much alive in Renaissance Italy, over two-thousand years later. The book casts serious doubt on the notion that a small, aritocratic minority practiced pederasty in Classical Antiquity. Rocke firmly establishes that male pederastic sex and relationships in Renaissance Florence were embedded in the broader contexts of male culture and sociality, class, retribution, and politics. His book is an additional verification of the anthropological theory that most pre-industrial societies accepted male pederasty as a valid expression of a man's sexual desires, though only ancient Greece and Rome seem to have so publicly lauded the practice in their art, literature, and philosophy.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Richard Harrold on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Rocke's tome on male culture and sexuality in Renaissance Florence is a tremendous work that provides exceptional insight into male sexuality. After reading this, only the most obdurate student of gay life and history could fail to attain a more significant understanding of the present-day forces that seek to quash gays and their efforts for equality under the law. Rocke's careful research of 15th- and 16th-century documents unequivocably shows that if not most, quite nearly a mjority of Florentine males at the time had sex at least once with another male. The significance of such a finding should not be missed.
Present day gays roll their eyes whenever they encounter the supposition that a person can "be made gay" or "converted" to being gay because of the firm belief that one's sexuality is predominantly innate. But after reading Rocke's book, one can't help but see how males that today would undoubtedly be identified as heterosexual had freely enjoyed sex with other males. The significance of this, however, should not be interpreted to mean that one's sexuality is entirely a choice. It does, however, provide an understanding of why some homophobes fear gays.
The Dominican cleric Savonarola's rhetoric in the war he waged against sodomy in Florence provides a historical background as well for understanding the position of today's Religious Right and its stance against gays. Savonarola figures heavily in Rocke's book and the author provides wonderful detail on the political machinations of the time, a politic that essentially recognized the need to publicly take a stand against sodomy, but in practicality often lacked the nerve to do what was necessary to rid the city of "this vice."
Anyone interested in the history surrounding gays and homosexuality is strongly urged to add this title to their list.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Fried on December 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a review of the Kindle version only, and so, it is a review of the implementation on Kindle and not a review of the content. Once i've completed reading the book i will add to this review.

I have only two problems with the Kindle implementation of this book: the font face is fixed to a serif type, and, the footnotes are not "live". My concern with a fixed serif font is that for people with reading disabilities, sans-serif fonts are more easily read and for people without reading difficulties sans-serif fonts will work as well as serif fonts. On well formatted Kindle books you can choose the desired font along with other display attributes that are missing in this Kindle book. By "live" i mean that one can click on footnotes to be taken to a separate page where you can read the footnotes. In this book the footnotes are not live, so you will have to search the book to locate the footnotes, add a bookmark, and move between your current reading location and your footnote bookmark. And even with that approach you must move the bookmark over time as the page containing your "current" footnote will change. I think this is an important failure in a complex book like this with so many footnotes in that it reduces the reading flow considerably to have to go through the process i outlined in order to read each footnote. The alternative is to skip the footnotes and read them later, thus losing the context of the footnote - won't really work.

I think it is reasonable to expect the above features in a Kindle book. Compared to producing a book on the printed page, the above features require very little time and provide considerable reading pleasure.
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