In 1991, publishing controversial bestseller The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf became an international celebrity feminist. Her new book, ‘Outrages’ is an engrossing analysis of the continuing repercussions of The Obscene Publications Act of 1857 affecting queer culture today. Swinburne, Walter Pater, the Rossettis and Oscar Wilde all feature.
Before 1857 it wasn’t “homosexuality” that was a crime, but simply the act of sodomy. A new British law made love between men obscene, unprintable, unspeakable and illegal. Wolf paints the dramatic ways this tormented a group of sexual dissidents, including Walt Whitman in America and the closeted homosexual English critic John Addington Symonds – in love with Whitman’s homoerotic voice in Leaves of Grass – as, decades before the infamous 1895 trial of Oscar Wilde, imprisonment became the State’s penalty for homosexuality.
Wolf, who recently also published Vagina, a new biography, recounts how a dying Symonds helped write the book on “sexual inversion” that created our modern understanding of homosexuality. She presents his secret memoir, mined here fully for the first time, as the first gay rights manifesto in the West
Answer these questions correctly to win THREE tickets to hear Erica Wolf in conversation with literary journalist Erica Wagner, 7pm, 20th May at Logan Hall, London WC1 0AL.
- When did homosexuality itself – not sodomy – become a crime in the UK?
- Speaking of outrages, how does ‘pussy terrorist’ Liad Kantorowicz (interviewed in our current issue 17) describe using laughter during today’s dark political times: a) “a vehicle for anger”, b) “our last hope c) “a form of sassy critique?”
- Which American poet, admired by the poet and critic John Addington Symonds, a queer with a wife and four daughters, wrote, “Resist much, obey little,” in Leaves of Grass?
The winner of all 3 tickets will be chosen at random. If you’d like less than 3, please let us know so more readers can share!
Please send your replies, marked ‘Naomi Wolf’ via our contact form, via the main menus (top left icon), or here: www.thedementedgoddess.com/contact/
Main photo, Maud Allan in ‘Salome’.