By Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Hailed via the New York Times as "one of the main influential texts in gender reviews, men's reports and homosexual studies," this publication uncovers the homosocial wish among males, from recovery comedies to Tennyson's Princess.
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Extra resources for Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire
Nay, if you read this line, remember not The hand that writ it, for I love you so That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot, If thinking on me then should make you woe. (71) After my death, dear love, forget me quite. . (72) No more be grieved at that which thou hast done. . (35) Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all. . (40) That god forbid, that made me first your slave, I should in thought control your times of pleasure. . (58) The youth's changes, disloyalties, qualms, self-divisions, ameres-pensees, are so comprehensively anticipated and personified by his admirer—in order to preserve the image of the beloved as simple and single-hearted to a 44 Swan in Love: The Example of Shakespeare's Sonnets 44 degree that, the speaker knows, no one can be—that the image of the youth himself is flattened and all but effaced.
Differendy put, for a man to undergo even a humiliating change in the course of a relationship with a man still feels like preserving or participating in a sum of male power, while for a man to undergo any change in the course of a relationship with a woman feels like a radical degeneration of substance. This difference also helps describe the impression of sexlcssness that persists in the relation of speaker to fair youth, even in the face of any amount of naughtiness, genital allusion, minute personal attention, frustration, and just plain love.
Uncornmonsensical as it may ~~ . this conformation is very characteristic of the Sonnets as a whole, and ~s recurrent in the plays. ~oroughness with which the Sonnets record and thematize misogyny and ~;nephobia, but rather the ways in which that plays off against the range Y:'~ male bonds and the speaker's programmatic assertions of syrnmetry. Really, in the Sonnets, we are dealing with two possible strong syrn~etries. 1d the dark lady as objeets of the speaker's desire. This symmetry is most :-oreefully presented in the sonnets that are directly about the triangular _=)\-e among the three of them, but it is also suggested by comparisons ~t\veen early sonnets addressed to the youth alone and later sonnets adiressed to the lady.