Willa Cather’s Sexual Aesthetics and the Male Homosexual Literary Tradition

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In this first full-length study of male homosexuality in Cather’s short stories and novels, John P. Anders examines patterns of male friendship ranging on a continuum from the social to the sexual. He reveals how Cather’s work assumes an unexpected depth and complexity by drawing on both the familiar tradition of friendship literature inspired by classical and Christian texts and a homosexual legacy that is part of, yet distinct from, established literary traditions. ΓΈ Anders argues that Cather’s artistic achievement is distinguished by her sexual aesthetics, an elusive literary style inextricably associated with homosexuality. His analysis demonstrates how a homosexual ethos and eros helped Cather develop a sensitivity to human variation and a style to accommodate it and thus became the objective correlative of her art, dramatizing the diversity of human nature as it deepens the mystery of her work.

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