ARRAY(0x2290298)

Florence Tamagne, Author A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris $28.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-87586-252-1 ISBN 978-0-87586-278-1

In her first major study, a French historian offers a comparative look at the historical forces that carved out a place, whether celebrated or vilified, for homosexuality in three European capitals. Tamagne is at her best focusing on details of between-the-wars intellectual and cultural life in London, Paris and Berlin, cities that she brings alive in this two-volume work. She considers Europe's first homosexual political movement, under the guidance of Berlin's Magnus Hirschfeld (he founded the mostly homosexual Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897) and its important influence in both London and Paris. Tamagne impressively bridges national and linguistic difference—her study's great achievement—when she describes these international influences. Otherwise, the story she narrates is familiar enough: sexual liberation flourished in the 1920s across Europe, especially in Berlin, but was annihilated in the 1930s by the rise of Nazism in Germany and conservatism elsewhere. But she also argues—quite controversially—that homosexual suppression by local law enforcement agencies in Germany was more significant than the later persecution of homosexuals in concentration camps. Her narrative can be slow, and the structure disjointed; Tamagne often offers more evidence than seems necessary for her claims. But many examples from her vast archive of sources—letters, memoirs, newspapers, quotes from prominent intellectuals—are vivid enough to keep readers intensely interested. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 12/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 356 pages - 978-0-87586-279-8
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