Since the troubadours, Western Poetry has rarely spoken of love, desire, and pleasure without invoking the specter of death. Western discourse also marries representations of homoeroticism to catastrophe; an entire modern narrative subgenre, for instance, plots the untimely demise of a wayward homosexual protagonist, a narrative sometimes resuscitated in media discourse on AIDS. Merrill Cole argues that death, whether through complications resulting from a compromised immune system, or as a result of gaybashing, provides narrative satisfaction. This book posits that male homoeroticism is a crucial component of any comprehensive understanding of modernism and the crisis of modern masculinity.

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