Non-Fiction of Gay Interest
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"Baron Corvo's notorious Venice Letters are among the few intimate and revealing documents of any writer to remain unpublished in full. Corvo's extraordinary descriptions of his homosexual - or, more accurately, pederastic - activities in Venice are given in direct language, in detail, and with utter honesty, in this correspondence with his friend Masson Fox in England. Amadeo, who stripped laughing in a sleepy wine-shop, Piero, 'like a white flash' in his eagerness in a charcoal-warmed inn bedroom at snowy Burano, and other 'young Venetians poised on lofty poops out on the white lagoon' are portrayed with a fine spontaneity and freedom. As Pamela Hansford Johnson has written of the Venice Letters, 'there really is something splendid, almost mythological, about their ramping sexuality; it was so extremely wholehearted, as everything about him was'.
"But the letters are not only an addition to sensual literature; they also describe the unpleasant social behaviour of the declining English colony in Venice in the years 1909-1910, and Corvo's life of hardship and starvation in the bitter Venice winters. In doing so, they describe the true selves of the people whom Rolfe satirised with such cruelty and accuracy in his novel The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole. That novel (whose title was intended as a pun) can now, with the publication of the venice Letters, be seen as a brilliant imaginative extension of both his daily life and of his homosexual activities.
(from the jacket)
Background / Biography:
from the jacket of this book:
"Frederick William Rolfe (1860 - 1913), who adopted the title 'Baron Corvo', was born in Cheapside, London, and died in Venice. He was a talented, eccentric: writer, painter, photographer, musician, schoolmaster, student priest. He became a Catholic at twenty-six but was twice refused the priesthood. Later he turned to writing - his best-known works are Hadrian the Seventh, a semi-autobiographical novel on which Peter Luke's play is based: Stories Toto Told Me; Chronicles of the House of Borgia and The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole. Corvo himself once wrote: 'One day posterity will be interested in my letters and in everything I have written.'"
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" As dainty a sight as I ever did see! / In a drifting boat with an hour to spare / On the coast of the land of the kilted knee / Under the sea-cliffs' shadows, where / A flock of boys, slender and debonair / Laugh in a lovely disarray / Fear they know not nor ever a care / The boys who bathe in Saint Andrews Bay "
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