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The Male Body in Medicine and Literature$
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Andrew Mangham and Daniel Lea

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940520

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940520.001.0001

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The Male Wound in Fin-de-Siècle Poetry

The Male Wound in Fin-de-Siècle Poetry

(p.87) Chapter Five The Male Wound in Fin-de-Siècle Poetry
The Male Body in Medicine and Literature

Sarah Parker

Liverpool University Press

This essay fixes on the figure of Saint Sebastian as the ‘icon for the literally and metaphorically penetrable male body in the late nineteenth century’. Sarah Parker regards him as a focus for the aesthetic and decadent impulses of the fin de siècle, particularly appealing to non-heteronormative sexualities, but also as a contrasting exemplum for degeneration discourse. Sebastian’s prevalence in the literature of the late nineteenth century, Parker argues, codifies a nascent aesthetics of homosexual suffering while at the same time offering a provocative metaphorisation of sodomitic activity. It further articulates same-sex relationships with the religious tradition of suffering, producing strikingly eroticised poetry that fantasises about penetrating the wounds not only of Sebastian but also of Christ.

Keywords:   Fin de siècle, Poetry, Male Body, Saint Sebastian, Homosexuality, Victorian Literature

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