Closet Writing/Gay Reading: The Case of Melville's Pierre
by James Creech
University of Chicago Press, 1994
Cloth: 978-0-226-12020-1 | Paper: 978-0-226-12022-5
Library of Congress Classification PS2384.P53C74 1993
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.3

ABOUT THIS BOOK | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
One of the most urgent tasks for gay studies today, James Creech argues, is the retrieval of a repressed, "closeted" literary heritage. But contradictions and problems cloud even the most basic theoretical questions: What does a lesbian or gay reading of a literary text require or presume? Can we talk about a homosexual writer expressing him- or herself before the invention of "homosexuality"? Was it possible for a writer like Herman Melville, for example, to create literary works linked to his own prohibited eros?

In Closet Writing/Gay Reading, Creech shows how a literary critic can be receptive to implicit and closeted sexual content. Forcefully advocating a tactic of identification and projection in literary analysis, he lends renewed currency to the kind of "sentimental" response to literature that continental theory—particularly deconstruction—has sought to discredit.

In the second half of his book, Creech sets out to analyze what he considers the exemplary novel of the nineteenth-century closet, Melville's Pierre, or: The Ambiguities. By approaching Pierre as the gay man Melville longed to have as its reader, Creech is able to decipher the novel's "encrypted erotics" and to reveal that Melville's apparent tale of incest is actually a homosexual novel in disguise. The closeted "address" to queer-sensitive readers that Pierre disseminates finally receives a critical reading that strives to be explicit, shareable, and public.

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