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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

On the Run

On the Run

(p.221) Chapter Sixteen On the Run

Rachel Hope Cleves

University of Chicago Press

The rise of Italian Fascism threatened the expatriate queer community in Florence. Italy's invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 led the United Kingdom to impose sanctions against the country, heightening Fascist sentiment against Florence's English residents. In May 1937, Norman Douglas fled the threat of imminent arrest on a charge of rape, in this case against a girl, a ten year old named Renata. Douglas crossed the border to France, not to return to Italy until after the war. He spent the next several years in the south of France. Despite the worsening political situation, he continued to pursue sexual encounters with boys, doing little to hide his actions from view. In 1938, he temporarily fled France for Switzerland, fearing that he would be arrested for his relationship with a boy named Gaby. The world was changing, becoming less tolerant of "pedophilia," as adult sexual desire for children was increasingly being defined. The constant threat of arrest for his relations with children may have been one reason that in 1940 Douglas focused his sexual attentions, for a while, on an adult woman, 26 year old Elizabeth David.

Keywords:   Norman Douglas, rape, Florence, fascism, France, Martha Gordon Crotch, World War II, boys, Elizabeth David, pedophilia

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