Jonathan Ned Katz: "Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality," December 2001

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Men's intimacy with men in the 19th century U.S. and England

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Publisher's Synopsis

In Love Stories, Jonathan Ned Katz presents stories of men's intimacies with men during the nineteenth century—including those of Abraham Lincoln—drawing flesh-and-blood portraits of intimate friendships and the ways in which men struggled to name, define, and defend their sexual feelings for one another. In a world before "gay" and "straight" referred to sexuality, men like Walt Whitman and John Addington Symonds created new ways to name and conceive of their erotic relationships with other men. Katz, diving into history through diaries, letters, newspapers, and poems, offers us a clearer picture than ever before of how men navigated the uncharted territory of male-male desire.

Excerpted reviews

“the most fully contextualized study we have so far of [Walt] Whitman’s affections for males…. Katz effectively creates a historical panorama of nineteenth-century male/male sexual behavior, and demonstrates how the culture worked to keep ‘romantic, spiritual love’ between men totally separate from sexual lust between men…. In this book context is everything, and never before have these stories been told against such a detailed backdrop of nineteenth-century male/male sexual and affectional behavior…. Katz has simply dug deeper than anyone else to put these stories together in compelling, surprising, and satisfying ways. – Ed Folsom, Editor, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

"a living tableau of 19th-century male sex in America...History at its best: informative, insightful, at times downright titilating"--Kirkus Reviews

"highly provocative, often startling.... [Katz] has researched deeply and widely, uncovering astonishing materials...Written clearly, succinctly and free from postmodern jargon, Katz's arguments are strong and vibrant.... contributes surprising, even shocking, insights into how sexual and emotional relationships are constructed, as well as demonstrating the enormous diversity and malleability of human eroticism."--Publishers Weekly

"Katz relates stories with the skill of a novelist, drawing us into the lives and loves of his characters.... Katz's work is rightly being hailed as a landmark work in the history of sexuality for its theoretical originality, remarkable research, and beautifully written portraits of male relationships.."--Seminary Co-Op Bookstore

"always interesting and informative....Katz is a diligent social and sexual historian...the overall tone is welcoming, sane, and considered."--Times Literary Supplement

"nuanced, careful, and humane readings of the ways that gay people have achieved visibility in America...fresh and poignant material even to readers well acquainted with the subject...[Katz's] fondness for his subjects is among the book's most appealing qualities." -- Boston Globe

"the bulk of the book...goes well beyond the well known to tell the remarkable stories of everyday men attracted to other men. Love Stories is a masterwork of both dedicated research and engaging storytelling."---Q-Online

"deeply researched....surprisingly honest and complex stories of gay affection....Katz, a meticulously close reader, explores the vagaries of 19th-century gay life with indefatigable patience....fills in yawning gaps in the scholarship of sexuality"---The Advocate

"Katz has long been recognized as a pioneering gay historian . . . . We read him for his archival work, his gathering together of stories of men, famous and otherwise, who desired men, stories that become bolder and more radical, like a gay coming-out story, as the book progresses" -- Philadelphia Inquirer

Katz's "stories take us from the 1830s to the 1890s, and in that time we can see perceptions about intimacy change as society changes" -- Washington Post

Lewis Gannett, review, Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 9:4

Table of Contents

Love Stories in Brief

Part I: Searching for Words

1. No Two Men Were Ever More Intimate

2. Dear Beloved Trio

3. A Gentle Angel Entered

Part II: Making Monsters

4. Already Do the Beastly Sodomites of Gotham Quake

5. Abominable and Detestable Crimes

6. The Man Monster

Part III: Coming Together, Coming to Terms

7. Voices of Sexes and Lusts

8. Sincere Friends

9. A Major Fell in Love with a Boy

10. I Got the Boys

11. Yes, I Will Talk of Walt

12. In the Name of CALAMUS Listen to Me!

13. A Heart Full of Love and Longing

14. Empty Chair, Empty Bed, Empty House

15. I Wish You Would Put the Ring on My Finger Again

Part IV: Going Public

16. He Cannot Be Oblivious of Its Plainer Meanings

17. Wild with Passion

18. I Cannot Get Quite to the Bottom of Calamus

19. Ardent and Physical Intimacies

20. Men Given to Unnatural Practices

21. To Unite for Defense

22. A Natural, Pure, and Sound Passion

23. Abnormal Passion

24. A Much More Intimate Communion

Sex and Affection between Men—Then and Now





Publication Data

Jonathan Ned Katz

Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality

440 pages
Page size 6 x 9
Copyright 2001
Cloth ISBN 9780226426150. Published December 2001
Paper ISBN 9780226426167. Published June 2003
University of Chicago Press

Publisher's List of Awards

John Boswell Prize

Publisher's Email Address

Publisher's Website

Publisher's Subjects

Gay and Lesbian Studies
Gender and Sexuality
American History
General Sociology