Glances Backward: An Anthology of American
Homosexual Writing, 1830-1920
by James Gifford
Broadview Press. 385 pages, $22.95 (paper)
THANKS TO THE INTERNET, we can now go to Google Books and find the full text, cover to cover, of such proto-gay novels as Shirley Everton Johnson’s 1902 The Cult of the Purple Rose, Bayard Taylor’s Joseph and his Friend (1870), and Charles Flandreau’s 1897 Harvard Episodes—just to mention three of the books excerpted in Glances Backward. Gifford, author of the excellent Dayneford’s Library (1995) and a scholar of the writer and critic Edward Prime-Stevenson, whom he quotes frequently, has collected about fifty American writers of prose, poetry, and nonfiction, excerpted some of their most telling works, and provided a well-written introduction that instructs the reader on how to read between the lines, remembering to notice bookplates and dedications.
Each entry is prefaced with explanatory notes and ends with many references and well-chosen sources for further reading, making it obvious that this is a work targeted at gay studies programs, but it will be enjoyed by anyone interested in the field.