Cotton’s Queer Relations: Same-Sex Intimacy and the Literature of the Southern Plantation, 1936-1968
by Michael P. Bibler
University of Virginia Press. 298 pages, $22.50
WITH THIS BOOK, Michael P. Bibler proposes to show that several works of 20th-century American fiction set on what he calls the Southern “meta-plantation” use same-sex relationships to undermine “the vertical system of paternalistic and patriarchal hierarchies that constitutes the core social structure of every individual plantation.” He breaks this down into examinations of white male-male relations in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom and in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, plus same-sex female relations in Lillian Hellman’s two plays, The Little Foxes and Another Part of the Forest, Katherine Anne Porter’s The Old Order, and Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. He also examines relations between African-American men in William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner and in Arna Bontemps’s Black Thunder.