Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe

John Boswell, Author Villard Books $25 (412p) ISBN 978-0-679-43228-9
Boswell ( Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality ) has written a stunning, complex book that is demanding in the brilliance of its scholarship but written with sterling clarity. He offers a sophisticated interpretation of the concepts of love and friendship and the institution of heterosexual marriage, from the ancient Greeks and Romans through the Middle Ages, demonstrating that in the distant past there was not the link of love and marriage expected today. Relationships between men were as likely to be sanctified and consummated as heterosexual ones, and the documentary evidence presented shows that men set up households together in significant numbers. Material on women is sparse, Boswell notes, because most premodern historical sources were written by men, for men, about men; women figure in them either as property or as objects of sexual desire. The academic title is deceptive--the book offers vividly romantic depictions of love and friendship, and there isn't a dull page. Illustrations not seen by PW. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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FORMATS
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-0-679-75164-9
Hardcover - 978-0-517-16457-0
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