Thursday, February 25, 2016

Was Harper Lee gay? Are some things just nobody's damned business?

Rather like the posthumous baptism of ancestors into one's faith, recent decades have seen a drive to claim every writer or artist for the gay team or the straight team. Much of this is laudable. It's work to recover and celebrate a suppressed heritage. In The Guardian this week, Colm Toibin writes about how the family of Henry James spent most of the twentieth century trying to suppress the record of his same-sex attraction. 

The post-Wilde Edwardian era is full of writers who wrestled with who they were, to varying degrees of success, from Saki to Firbank (none at all) to Maugham to E.M. Forster, who realized, reading Housman, who he was, and Housman, too. On the other hand, some of the shriller claims of, say, Larry Kramer tend to make the effort almost laughable. In his revisionist history of America, one almost has to conclude the population increase of the 19th century was entirely due to immigration, so many famous gays has he exhumed. But what of those still alive? Are some things still one's own business? This article on The Big Question Harper Lee Never Answered is thought-provoking

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