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Gay Life & Culture: A World History Hardcover – October 31, 2006


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Gay Life & Culture: A World History + Art and Queer Culture + The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays: Lady Windermere's Fan; Salome; A Woman of No Importance; An Ideal Husband; The Importance of Being Earnest (Oxford World's Classics)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Universe; First Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789315114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789315113
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This lushly illustrated encyclopedia of gay life, culture, and the visual arts is a welcome addition to the ever-popular publishing phenomenon of general art history books..." "This volume should be commended for including a significant number of pages on AIDS and is invaluable to both the lay reader and well as the academic historian." -- Dec06 ART & UNDERSTANDING MAGAZINE

"...a sweeping narrative, but also inlcudes many of the nuances and complexities that the subject needs." "...it is both a scholarly and lusciously presented popular work..." "...this book is indeed an important one." -- 10/28/06 FINANCIAL TIMES

"...meticulously annotated...without a dull page in the lot." -- 10/19/06 ECHO MAGAZINE

"Editor Robert Alrich's tome reports on queer love from 1700 B.C. to today, with gorgeous (and rare) illustrations." -- Nov06 TIME OUT NEW YORK

"Gay Life and Culture deserves to read and should have a place on every bookshelf." 3/4 page with two photos -- Dec06 METROSOURCE NY

About the Author

Robert Aldrich is professor of history at the University of Sydney. He is the author of numerous books including The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy and Colonialism and Homosexuality.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Recommended for history buffs and those interested in gender studies.
Dita von Krieg
Certainly we are obligated to see Greek pederasty in all its manifestations, good and bad, but there is no justification for one-sided views in a work such as this.
Andrew Calimach
If you want a volume filled with sumptuous pictures, may I suggest L'Amour Bleu, a supposedly "out-of-print" book which keeps being continually reprinted?
Geoff Puterbaugh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Calimach on January 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very professional and visually opulent work, to which a number of top-notch scholars have contributed original and thoughtful material, and that could and should have served as the standard introduction to the topic. A great deal of care and thought obviously went into what is in many ways a splendid accomplishment. Unfortunately, it is marred by some eggregious flaws, most specifically in the opening section.

Hupperts, in his section on the Greeks, repeatedly pushes a disparaging view of same-sex relations in ancient Greece, in a transparent attempt to introduce a value judgement between the age-structured relations of the Hellenes and the egalitarian ones promoted today. But this was supposed to be a historical work, not a manifesto. What were the editors thinking?

For starters, Hupperts takes leave of scholarly objectivity to refer to Zeus' abduction of a willing Ganymede as "preying upon" him. Next, when discussing Ephorus' description of the Cretan practice, he forces the discussion into a sally on anal sex. This is an inflamatory sexualization of a millennial tradition of pedagogic and initiatory relationships among the Cretans, a people renowned for its moderation and conservatism, according to Plutarch. It is also completely gratuitous since we have no idea how the Cretan couples related, only that it was seen as a mutual exchange of honor, and the youth could repudiate his lover if the latter had abused him). To top it off, the reader is subjected to the reduction of intimate relations, whatever their nature might have been, to the mechanistic Dover-Halperinesque conceit of "penetration.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Puterbaugh on January 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am assuming that most readers do not have infinite space on their bookshelves. If you want an excellent one-volume overview, the place to get it is Homosexuality and Civilization -- not here.

If you want a volume filled with sumptuous pictures, may I suggest L'Amour Bleu, a supposedly "out-of-print" book which keeps being continually reprinted?

The book under review is much weaker, in all respects.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By NonModo on September 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
An excellent pictorial tour through the centuries on fine paper, with easy top understand prose, and plenty of references for further research and reading.

However, I am not sure that averything should be looked at from our contemporary narrow view of what constitutes 'gay'. The term is a dis-service for men who (occasionally) like men - appreciating the beauty or the person they see. Which has nothing to do with sexual orinetation. In those terms the gay label has put everyone either in or out of a new closet.

Former centuries did not have such terms and sexual behaviour was in many ways freer and less bound to convention. it used to be the that the upper and working classes were far more libertine in their approach to personal relationships. Some of this comes though inthis tome. A laudable effort.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ford Ka on May 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The book seems torn between a coffee-table book (it certainly looks and weighs like one) and an academic study. It is not a very pleasant position and anyone who takes it is bound to end up worse for wear because meeting the expectations connected with the two quite distant genres is simply impossible. It is important to bear this in mind because it seems that previous reviewers missed this point completely.
This is an introduction into gay and lesbian history. There are better, better researched, more in-depth and more detailed studies but you have to start somewhere, and it is better do so with a large overview like this one. Some can start from Foucault and take it from there but they are quite few while most readers will find Foucault sufficiently offputing never to try to approach gay and lesbian history again. This is a book aimed at those average readers. It is for them that it takes an approachable form with clear division of material and a large number of colourful illustrations. It is also for them that it tries to simplify certain issues (but providing an ample bibliography so anyone not quite satisfied should know where to look for more).
One thing must be stressed - this an extremely universal study that goes beyond the limits of the Western world both in descriptions of present state of gay and lesbian universe and in its attempts to present its past. If only for that it is a book well worth buying and reading.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Dynes on January 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many books purporting to offer a history of homosexuality concentrate mainly on the last two centuries in Europe and North America. Since many readers of such books are interested in self-understanding, this bias is understandable. Unfortunately, it is supported by a mistaken theory known as Social Construction which holds, in essence, that there was no homosexuality before ca. 1870 and then only in European countries. In his introduction Robert Aldrich rightly eschews this error. His book includes important material on classical antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and non-Western civilizations.

Unfortunately, some of his authors do not follow this principle, and regurgitate the old Social Constructionist platitudes. There is also a discord concerning levels of accessibility, as some contributions are technical while others border on the simplistic.

Physically, the book is sumptious, with over 250 splendid illustrations gathered by the picture editor, the late Wendy Gay. Unfortunately, the illustrations seem to have been gathered independently of the texts, whose authors hardly ever refer to them.

In short, this book has much to offer. However, it would have benefited from a firmer editorial hand, so as to shape the contributions into a more organic whole.
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