By Axel Nissen
The fashionable suggestion of Victorians is they have been impassive prudes, imprisoned by way of sexual repression and suffocating social constraints; they expressed love and affection basically in the bounds of matrimony—if in any respect. And but, a wealth of proof contradicting this concept has been hiding in undeniable sight for with reference to a century. In Manly Love, Axel Nissen turns to the novels and brief tales of Victorian the USA to discover the commonly missed phenomenon of passionate friendships among men. Nissen’s exam of the literature of the interval brings to gentle a forgotten style: the fiction of romantic friendship. Delving into works by way of Mark Twain, Henry James, William Dean Howells, and others, Nissen identifies the genre’s targeted good points and explores the connections among romantic friendships in literature and in actual existence. Situating love among males on the middle of Victorian tradition, Nissen substantially alters our figuring out of the yank literary canon. And with its deep insights into the emotional and highbrow lifetime of the interval, Manly Love additionally deals a clean viewpoint on nineteenth-century America’s attitudes towards love, friendship, marriage, and intercourse.
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Extra info for Manly Love: Romantic Friendship in American Fiction
24 The relationship between John and Bob in the novel may owe something to Taylor’s own lifelong friendship with John B. Phillips, a physician. In 1842, when he was seventeen, Taylor referred to Phillips as “the only kindred spirit I have, and the only confidential and true friend. ”25 They remained friends till the end: Phillips was one of Taylor’s pallbearers at his funeral on March 15, 1879. 26 Taylor’s romantic friend for more than twenty years, the German merchant August Bufleb, was a 19 c h a p te r one married man nearly twenty-five years his senior.
In a society that did not use “great sex” to lend legitimacy, depth, and status to love relationships, and that did not insist that liking someone’s looks was tantamount to lusting after them, it was possible to give expression to this aesthetic admiration publicly, even if the admired object was another man. Theodore Winthrop’s novel John Brent contains as vivid an example of this phenomenon as one could hope for. ” I said to myself. “This is the ‘Young Eagle,’ or the ‘Sucking Dove,’ or the ‘Maiden’s Bane,’ or some other great chief of the cleanest Indian tribe on the continent.
I wonder,” said Mrs. Hale, following them with softly appreciative eyes, “if women are capable of as disinterested friendships as men? I never saw anything like the devotion of these two creatures. Look! if Mr. Falkner hasn’t got his arm around Mr. Lee’s waist, and Lee, with his own arm over Falkner’s neck, is looking up in his eyes. ” Kate, however, to Mrs. Hale’s indignation, threw her pretty head back and sniffed the air contemptuously. “I really don’t see anything but some absurd sentimentalism of their own, or some mannish wickedness they’re concocting by themselves.