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Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day Hardcover – Illustrated, May 8, 2018
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781419730993
- ISBN-13 : 978-1419730993
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; Illustrated Edition (May 8, 2018)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1419730991
- Best Sellers Rank: #628,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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First of all -- it contains very little information about the subject! I felt that was true as I read chapters about earlier periods, but when I came to the era that I know personally (1970s Gay Liberation and beyond) I realized that he does not even cover the surface, much less scratch it.
Most offensive to me -- I would say actively disgusting -- is the author's wry, amused tone when describing century after century of suffering, isolation, insult and persecution (as well as prosecution). The history of gay London is the story of a centuries-long holocaust (small "h") of human misery. Even the suicides(!!) of gay men hounded to their deaths are tossed off with a witty wink and supposedly clever turn of phrase! This is no laughing matter. Those ruined and ended lives could have been mine. Do not dismiss my life (or the deaths of other gay people) as a dinner-party anecdote. Do not.
I heard a snippet of the audio version. Whoever was speaking had that same amused, almost mocking tone of voice when describing the most horrible conditions. I hope that was not the author speaking, but I suspect it was.
Given that the author has written major historical works, I am reminded of a famous host in Los Angeles who used to have a straight party on a Saturday and then feed the leftovers to his gay friends on the Sunday.
This book is DISGRACEFUL -- and you will learn next to nothing from it.
To what extent is there a special affinity between London and same-sex behavior? In our present knowledge that question is probably unanswerable. To address it we would need sexual histories of other major European cities: Rome of course, together with, say, Florence, Paris, and Cologne. Maybe other scholars can attempt these.
The evidence for the first millennium is sparse so that the account is speculative in part. Ackroyd fills in the gaps with general information about the sexual customs of the ancient Celts, Romans, and Anglo-Saxons. There is some linguistic evidence, though this is more ambivalent than the author assumes.
The story becomes more concrete as the writer addresses the later middle ages, where there is an important piece of evidence: the attestation in the Chronicle of Richard of Devizes of a homosexual subculture in twelfth-century London, the first such example known to us in Europe.
Beginning with Elizabethans the data is richly forthcoming, continuing down to the present. Regrettably, Ackroyd makes little attempt at contextualization of this copious material. In the actual situations there are always framing institutions, technologies, and ideologies. As these contexts figure little here, the effect is one of a relentless cascade of anecdotes, culled, it must be said, by his research assistants from the archival work done by professional scholars.
At all events, in reading this volume you won’t be bored.
How so many can be bullied and cast aside from a so called civilized country,,,