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UnspeakableA Life beyond Sexual Morality$
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Rachel Hope Cleves

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226733531

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226733678.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Reflection I

Reflection I

(p.85) Reflection I

Rachel Hope Cleves

University of Chicago Press

Even before Norman Douglas became famous as a writer, people regarded him as extraordinary. It was a rare privilege to know him during those early days, in Martin Birnbaum’s wistful words. The traces of Douglas’s charisma still cling to the archive, but his seductive powers have been diminished by time. In today’s light, his charms appear tawdry: his scholarly wit, just the gilding of a gentleman’s education; his sexual rapacity no longer daring, but the unbridled expression of inherited privilege. From today’s perspective, Norman Douglas seems all too predictable, not worth caring about—except that his willingness to trespass the bounds of Victorian politesse has left a documentary record of a routine but disreputable variety of sexual behavior that most people then and now would rather not discuss....

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