by Duc Dau
The Ohio State University Press, 2024
Cloth: 978-0-8142-1503-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8142-8336-3
Library of Congress Classification PR468.S48D38 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 820.9353809034


Sex, Celibacy, and Deviance is the first major study to explore the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) in Victorian literature and art. As the Bible’s only erotic poem, the Song of Songs is the canonical Judeo-Christian book about love, furnishing the Victorians with an authoritative and literary language for love, marriage, sex, mourning, and religious celibacy.

Duc Dau adopts a queer and feminist lens to consider how Victorians employed and interpreted the Song of Songs in their work. How did writers and artists fashion and, most importantly, challenge the norms of gender, romantic love, and marriage? Spanning the early Victorian era through the first two decades of the twentieth century, Sex, Celibacy, and Deviance considers the works of Charlotte Brontë, Thomas Hardy, Christina Rossetti, John Gray, Michael Field, Edward Burne-Jones, and Simeon Solomon alongside two lesser-known figures: Irish-born Scottish artist Phoebe Anna Traquair and the Catholic religious leader Augusta Theodosia Drane. By addressing the relevance of the Song of Songs in light of shifting and conflicting religious and social contexts, Dau provides a fresh perspective on Victorian literature, religion, and culture.

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