Gregory Woods Poet Professor of Gay and Lesbian LGBT Studies Gay Queer Literature Culture

Literary Criticism

Articulate Flesh: Male Homo-eroticism and Modern Poetry (Yale University Press, 1987) - book cover Gregory Woods, Articulate Flesh: Male Homo-eroticism and Modern Poetry (Yale University Press, 1987)

'One of the best works to come out of gay and lesbian studies'--Raymond Bentman, Journal of Modern Literature
'Truly revolutionary ... a profound success'--Jonathan D. Katz & David C. Ward, PN Review
'Some of the finest gay poetry criticism in English'--Paul Knobel, Encyclopedia of Male Homosexual Poetry


Articulat­e Flesh is about modern poetry in English. It was written in the late 1970s, but did not find a publisher until the mid-1980s. The first half of the book, entitled ‘Themes’, has chapters on ‘The Male Body’, ‘Men of War’ and ‘Childless Fathers’. Then the second half, entitled ‘Variations’, has chapters on D.H. Lawrence, Hart Crane, W.H. Auden, Allen Ginsberg and Thom Gunn.

On 5 June 1988, having read this book, the poet Thom Gunn wrote in a letter to me:

'About 30 years ago, I was speaking to Isherwood about Auden. We agreed that someone would one day write a great study of him showing the role of the communist spy he found so attractive was just as much that of sexual spy (often sexual spy pretending to be communist), and that this was the REAL key to Auden.

'Well, you have done not only that, but you’ve done an exemplary study of the whole subject … [I]t is such an obviously superior work that intelligent readers and scholars will find it one by one, and in a few years it will be taken for granted that this is an indispensible book. It is sturdy: alert, courageous, thorough-going, logical, sympathetic. It does its work so well that it contains certain essays on associated subjects - for example on the connection between obscurity of poetry by gay poets and their sexuality - that are not your central concern. The book is so immensely more perceptive than anything I already know on the subject. I can’t imagine it being better.'

Opening paragraph:

‘Eros pitches his house in the human body. It is here that all declarations of love, poetic or otherwise, have their origin; and it is hither that, even after their dizziest flights of spirituality, they must return. The verbal flourish of erotic candour - the song or sonnet, graffito or billet doux - is an echo of the body’s signs, an articulation of the flesh. Since this book is about poetry written by men in either passing or lasting moods of erotic attraction to other men, the body in question is male.’

This Is No Book: A Gay Reader (Mushroom Books, 1994) - book cover Gregory Woods, This is No Book: A Gay Reader (Mushroom Publications, 1994)

'On gay poetics ... I can't think of anything better'--Alan Sinfield, Gay Times books of the year, 1995

This is a collection of review essays, mainly on gay literature, first published between 1984 and 1993 in European Gay Review, Frontiers, Gay’s the Word Review, Lesbian and Gay Socialist, the New Statesman, Rouge, the Times Literary Supplement and Word and Image. It includes items on Derek Jarman, Edward Carpenter, Langston Hughes, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Umberto Saba, Oscar Wilde, Robert Ferro, Michel Tournier, Federico García Lorca, John Gambril Nicholson, Walt Whitman, Jean Genet, Juan Goytisolo, Lluis Fernandez, Harold Norse, Jean Cocteau, Christopher Bram, Pier Vittorio Tondelli, Hubert Fichte, Paul Bailey and Hervé Guibert.

The book's title is from the poem 'So Long' by Walt Whitman: 'Camerado, this is no book, / Who touches this touches a man'.

From the introduction: 'Whether you live in the remote countryside or in crowded inner-city alienation, gay readings can turn your solitude into solidarity. Few texts could have a nobler purpose than this'.

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition (Yale University Press, 1998) - book cover Gregory Woods, A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition (Yale University Press, 1998)

'A work of stunning scholarship and intelligence, a core requirement for every library in the field'--Gert Hekma, Sexualities

'Breath-takingly well-informed'--George E. Haggerty, American Literary History

'Woods is a prodigious scholar who appears to have read more than Samuel Johnson and Harold Bloom combined'--Louis Bayard, Washington Post Book World

This book examines a broad range of literary texts, from many different cultures and periods, that might be amenable to ‘gay readings’. In a flood of positive reviews, it was variously described as a 'monument', a 'landmark', a 'masterpiece', 'magisterial', 'herculean' and even 'superhuman'.

The chapter headings are: 1: The Making of the Gay Tradition. 2: The Greek Classics. 3: The Roman Classics. 4: The Christian Middle Ages. 5: The Orient. 6: The European Renaissance. 7: Christopher Marlowe. 8: William Shakespeare. 9: The Pastoral Elegists. 10: From Libertinism to the Gothic. 11: New Bearings in the Novel. 12: The American Renaissance. 13: Muscular Aestheticism. 14: Spirit versus Physique. 15: Marcel Proust. 16: Homosexual Men by Women. 17: The Harlem Renaissance. 18: The Tragic Sense of Life. 19: Fantastic Realism. 20: Towards the Popular. 21: The Pink Triangle. 22: The Post-War Starting-Point. 23: European Poetry on the Left. 24: Post-War Tragic Fiction. 25: The Homosexual in Society. 26: Black African Poetry. 27: From Solitary Vice to Circle Jerk. 28: Boys and Boyhood. 29: The Age of Antibiotics. 30: The Family and Its Alternatives. 31: The AIDS Epidemic. 32: Poetry and Paradox.

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition (Yale University Press, 1998) - book cover Paperback Cover

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