The most recent issue of Monumenta Nipponica contains a detailed and carefully written review of my book Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Japanese Modernist Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). The review was by Michelle Mason, an associate professor of Japanese literature at University of Maryland. She writes:
Angles convincingly argues that despite occasional borrowing from and homage to Edo-period notions of nanshoku (male-male sexuality), these three artists [discussed in the book, namely MURAYAMA Kaita, 村山槐多 EDOGAWA Ranpo 江戸川乱歩, and INAGAKI Taruho 稲垣足穂] were very much products of their particular historical moment. Specifically, amid the ascendency of heteronormative models of sexuality and an ever-increasing pathologization of male-male attraction and eroticism, they grappled and experimented with, queered, and challenged the aesthetic, medico-scientific, and social trends of their day. One strength of this study is that the lives and textual productions of the men it investigates are richly contextualized within Japanese and Western literary movements, dominant and popular sexological discourses, and trends in print and visual culture. The work also presents an assortment of imported and indigenous terminology and associations that intersect and transform in novel ways to configure modern Japanese conceptualizations of beautiful boys, male-male eroticism, and modern aesthetics…. Anyone reading to the end is rewarded with a rich rendering of an extremely important historical and cultural inheritance, which, as Angles compellingly argues, profoundly informs and inspires current Japanese understanding of male-male desire.
Click here for the entire review.
Click here to read about the book on Amazon.
和田三造 WADA Sanzō (1883-1967)
「南風」 South Wind (1907)
東京国立近代美術館 The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
油彩・キャンバス・Oil on canvas
151.5 × 182.4cm
Lovers in a Landscape, Iran
Paeans to homoerotic love appear all throughout medieval Persian literature, giving the nation a long and rich history of homoerotic desire, much unlike what the current regime in Iran would have one believe.
Photo via todemandlove
This poster shows one of Riga’s most famous public monuments, the statue of Lenin’s riflemen. The monument is controversial since it commemorates a group of soldiers who fought on the side of the Bolsheviks, tried to establish Soviet rule in Latvia, and eventually became Lenin’s personal bodyguards. Today, some Latvians think the monument should be removed because of its Soviet links, but some think it should stay. Ironically, the Museum of the Occupation of Riga, which documents Nazi and Soviet wrongdoings in Latvia, is right next door.
The reason I like it so much is the homosocial, perhaps even homoerotic quality of the strong, tall, powerful, bold men standing together in camaraderie—qualities so often repeated in Soviet propaganda. When I visited Riga last year, I was surprisingly touched by this statue and spent quite a while looking at it.
Here is another photo from Flickr, taken in 2006 by Swishphotos.
Rockwell KENT (1882-1971): Starlight (Wood engraving)
The American artist, printmaker, illustrator, and writer Rockwell Kent produced some of the most dramatic illustrations of the early twentieth century, helping to feed the interest in Art Deco that characterized the arts of the 1920s and 1930s. One finds in these works, a strong appreciation of the beauty of the heroic, male form, and the sorts of strong, powerful images of the working class that one sees in the murals of the Depression era. In the late 1930s, he became involved with leftist politics, joining the International Worker’s Order, a Communist organization. His work earned significant attention in the USSR, and in 1967, he was given the Lenin Peace Prize. For more about his life and career, see the article about him on Wikipedia.
I first encountered his work in an illustrated copy of Melville’s Moby Dick that I bought for a dollar at a library book sale when I was a little boy. I read the strange tale of obsession with great interest, largely because his amazingly dramatic, graphic illustrations brought the strange sea world of the novel to life with a vividness that my landlocked grade-school imagination could not. Now, as an adult, I see in these illustrations the celebration of the lives of the proletarian seamen, struggling to achieve something far beyond the realm of ordinary experience.