Dustin Friedman deposited Weird Sex: Teleny and the History of Sexuality in the group Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century English Literature on MLA Commons 6 days, 7 hours ago
In this article, I argue that that a close examination of the most sexually explicit scenes in the anonymous gay pornographic novel Teleny (1893) reveals that they do not anticipate the bourgeois, individualistic liberal gay subject described by Michel Foucault, but are instead more closely related to the cosmic horrors found in the genre of weird fiction. The novel represents all sexual acts as ‘passions full of rage and hatred’ that are inscribed in a discourse that forecloses the possibility of sexual liberation through the rights-based logic of liberalism. Its very raison d’être as an explicitly pornographic text is to inscribe, in vividly grotesque terms, the destructive logic of sexuality itself, forcing readers to think beyond the binaries of man/woman, gay/straight that were hallmarks of Victorian social and scientific discourse. That a novel demonstrates this level of awareness at the supposed inaugural moment of modern homosexual identity should give historians of sexuality pause. Teleny invites us reimagine the history of sexuality not as a teleological movement away from the repressive hypothesis, but instead as a constantly reiterating investigation of desire’s inherent capacity for destruction.