Forbidden Desire in Early Modern Europe: Male-Male Sexual Relations, 1400-1750 (Hardback)
  • Forbidden Desire in Early Modern Europe: Male-Male Sexual Relations, 1400-1750 (Hardback)
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Forbidden Desire in Early Modern Europe: Male-Male Sexual Relations, 1400-1750 (Hardback)

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£25.00
Hardback 608 Pages
Published: 25/01/2024
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A landmark study of the history of male-male sex in early modern Europe, including the European colonies and the Ottoman world.

Until quite recently, the history of male-male sexual relations was a taboo topic. But when historians eventually explored the archives of Florence, Venice and elsewhere, they brought to light an extraordinary world of early modern sexual activity, extending from city streets and gardens to taverns, monasteries and Mediterranean galleys. Typically, the sodomites (as they were called) were adult men seeking sex with teenage boys. This was something intriguingly different from modern homosexuality: the boys ceased to be desired when they became fully masculine. And the desire for them was seen as natural; no special sexual orientation was assumed.

The rich evidence from Southern Europe in the Renaissance period was not matched in the Northern lands; historians struggled to apply this new knowledge to countries such as England or its North American colonies. And when good Northern evidence did appear, from after 1700, it presented a very different picture. So the theory was formed - and it has dominated most standard accounts until now - that the 'emergence of modern homosexuality' happened suddenly, but inexplicably, at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Noel Malcolm's masterly study solves this and many other problems, by doing something which no previous scholar has attempted: giving a truly pan-European account of the whole phenomenon of male-male sexual relations in the early modern period. It includes the Ottoman Empire, as well as the European colonies in the Americas and Asia; it describes the religious and legal norms, both Christian and Muslim; it discusses the literary representations in both Western Europe and the Ottoman world; and it presents a mass of individual human stories, from New England to North Africa, from Scandinavia to Peru. Original, critical, lucidly written and deeply researched, this work will change the way we think about the history of homosexuality in early modern Europe.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198886334
Number of pages: 608
Weight: 1 g
Dimensions: 240 x 160 x 50 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

After Forbidden Desire ...sexuality studies has been moved into a new space. - Todd Reeser, Author of Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance, and Professor of French and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Pittsb

Sir Noel Malcolm continues to produce books of the highest quality. I have had the privilege of reading the typescript of his latest book, Forbidden Desire in Early-Modern Europe: Male-Male Sexual Relations, 1400-1750. It is a work of stunning erudition, drawing upon material in most European languages. About 170, 000 words long, and written with Sir Noel's customary elegance and lucidity, it is far and away the best book to have been written on this challenging subject. - Sir Keith Thomas, Author of Religion and the Decline of Magic, and Honorary Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford

A book of startling originality and depth. The abundance of Malcolm's archival research, the range of languages and the geographical diversity of his material are stupendous... No one else has had the temerity or linguistic skills to attempt so comprehensive a survey. - Richard Davenport-Hines, The Spectator

Ambitious... full of real scholarly inquisitiveness and human sensitivity. - Daniel Brookes, Daily Telegraph

[A] magnificently researched and gripping book. - Andrew Hadfield, Irish Times

[A] learned forensic analysis... timely work. - Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Times

Noel Malcolm's survey... debunks many myths, but mostly catalogues the extreme violence perpetrated against those judged to have broken religious doctrine. - Peter Conrad, The Observer

A masterclass of what historians can and cannot do with evidence... Malcolm is one of the few preternaturally gifted linguists who could take on such a diverse source base... Noel Malcolm's sweeping survey has given us a lot to chew on. It is a powerful indictment of a priori theorizing. His answers raise new questions that need further investigation. - Jan Machielsen, TLS

[A] deeply erudite, highly original and epoch-making book... This is a work of formidable scholarship that will transform its subject but, like all the best historians, Malcolm is also an elegant writer who never allows his vast corpus of material to obscure his argument... this is an academic page turner. - Daniel Johnson, Engelsberg Ideas

An important [book], put together with the ambition and carefulness that those familiar with Malcolm's work on other topics have come to expect... this is likely to be an epochal study in its field. Powered by breathtaking care and scholarship, it is a book that specialists will be grappling with for years to come. - Tim Smith-Laing, Literary Review

Marshaling an impressive array of sources, Malcolm's lucid prose conveys a vivid sense of the lived realities of his subjects. The result is a landmark volume of social history. - Publishers Weekly

The sweep of this book is impressive and its erudition is without question. It moves easily from broad analysis to specific detail... a scholarly work of history, taking a measured and informed view. - Lucy Wooding, The Tablet

One of the most thought-provoking books I have read in some time... an ambitious comparative study that raises plenty of questions. - Catherine Fletcher, History Today

One of the most compelling and accomplished pieces of social history that I have read... Forbidden Desire is an extraordinary achievement -and the work of an extraordinary historian. - Rhodri Lewis, Prospect

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