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Visions of SodomReligion, Homoerotic Desire, and the End of the World in England, c. 1550-1850$
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H. G. Cocks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226438665

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226438832.001.0001

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The Discovery of Sodom, 1851

The Discovery of Sodom, 1851

(p.202) Chapter Seven The Discovery of Sodom, 1851
Visions of Sodom

H. G. Cocks

University of Chicago Press

In 1851, the French savant Louis-Felicien de Saulcy claimed to have discovered the sites of Sodom and Gomorrah on the shores of the Dead Sea in Palestine. The news sparked off a sensation across Europe at a time when there was a large market for both far-eastern travel narratives and biblical wonders. De Saulcy's alleged discovery prompted renewed interest in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and their relation to excessive lust. The sensation was fueled by continuing interest in prophetic scriptures such as the Book of Revelation and the overlap between that and Victorian anti-Catholicism, which continued to see Rome as a new Sodom. Radical politicians like the Chartist John Frost also used de Saulcy's work to attack the British state by pointing out that convict colonies in Australia were marked by the sins of Sodom. Fascination with the Sodom story resulted from the fact that it seemed to represent a final memento of God's untrameled power in an age of creeping religious scepticism. In that sense, Sodom, in reality and imagination was a reminder of divine sublimity in a modern age.

Keywords:   Palestine, travel, Chartism, the sublime, anti-Catholicism, Luis-Felicien de Saulcy, Dead Sea, John Frost, Book of Revelation

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