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Queer Bloomsbury$
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Brenda S. Helt and Madelyn Detloff

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474401692

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474401692.001.0001

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Deviant Desires and the Queering of Leonard Woolf

Deviant Desires and the Queering of Leonard Woolf

(p.223) Deviant Desires and the Queering of Leonard Woolf
Queer Bloomsbury

Elyse Blankley

Edinburgh University Press

Leonard Woolf circulated among Bloomsbury’s different desires because he was himself queered by his class, religion, and caste. Focusing on Woolf’s 1914 novel TheWiseVirgins and letters between him and Lytton Strachey, Blankley shows that the two men engaged with each other’s work to tease out possible answers to the ‘problem’ and pleasures of the erotic male body and the narrative scripts permissible to it. For Strachey and Woolf, the vexing questions of desire and social disapprobation reached an interesting crisis in the years leading up to WWI. The Western mind/body split was a troubling inheritance, and they responded in surprisingly interrelated ways by interrogating the forms available to them for speaking forbidden desire and imagining new parameters of desire beyond matrimony, domesticity, and the marketplace of sexual exchange. Blankley shows that, together, the two writers helped shaped a dialectic of queer literary modernism, in complementary albeit antiphonal registers.

Keywords:   Bloomsbury Group, queer, Leonard Woolf, Lytton Strachey, queering, TheWiseVirgins, queer literary modernism, forbidden desires, queer friendship, Elyse Blankley

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