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By Sarah Cole

The terrain of masculine fellowship presents an immense context for realizing key literary good points of the modernist interval. Sarah Cole's exam of the literary and cultural background of 20th century masculine intimacy considers such the most important issues because the damaged friendships that permeate Forster's fictions, Lawrence's determined urge to make tradition out of blood brotherhood and the serious bereavement of the conflict poet. Cole argues that those dramas of compelling and sometimes tortured male friendship have helped to outline a selected voice in the literary canon.

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The Wilde trials exploded in the midst of all of this urgent ideological work. As a consequence, the entire, vaguely disconcerting nexus of effeminacy, leisured idleness, immorality, luxury, insouciance, decadence and aestheticism, which Wilde was perceived as instantiating, was transformed into a brilliantly precise image. (The Wilde Century, 118) According to Sinfield, then, the queer moment arrives as a kind of stunning unveiling, with the spectacle of Wilde permanently altering the valence attached to the image of the boy-lover, as to the dandy.

Yet these are real bodies, and the beauty that they epitomize by holding power in suspension is, for Pater, quite extraordinary, because, once again, it represents a specifically masculine beauty. ” he cries, “the beauty of these most beautiful of all people was a male beauty, far remote from feminine tenderness; had the expression of a certain ascˆesis in it; was like unsweetened wine” (PP, 202). Pater is at pains to create an ideal of beauty that banishes femininity, with its panoply of negative associations.

10 It may seem surprising, today, to recognize how strongly Hellenism impressed many Victorian intellectuals as a viable idea to help combat a sense of cultural deterioration and to compete with dominant values surrounding Christianity, capitalism, and the middle-class family. Without abandoning the framework of the Judeo-Christian tradition, many thinkers across the political spectrum turned to Greece as an avenue for intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual inspiration. In the face of what many felt to be the dizzying pace of social, technological, and moral change, looking back to Greece seemed to provide a template for a fully realized, highly cultivated, selfconfident society, a model and example for the contemporary world.

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