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Confessions of the Letter Closet

Epistolary Fiction and Queer Desire in Modern Spain

2005
Author:

Patrick Paul Garlinger

Confessions of the Letter Closet

Explores the history of the letter as an expression of sexual desire

By the beginning of the twentieth century, epistolary novels in Spain increasingly grappled with homoerotic and homosexual desire, treating it as a secret communicated through private letters. Patrick Paul Garlinger reveals how the confidential model persists in fictional letter writing from the early twentieth century to the present, framing expressions of queer desire in confessional terms: secrecy, guilt, morality, and shame.

This book offers a supple, subtle, argument for reading literature, culture, and identity as part of the practice of everyday life.

Brad Epps, Harvard University

By the beginning of the twentieth century, epistolary novels in Spain increasingly grappled with homoerotic and homosexual desire, treating it as a secret communicated through private letters from one reader to another. Patrick Paul Garlinger reveals how this confidential model persists in these fictions of letter writing from the early twentieth century to the present, framing expressions of queer desire in confessional terms: secrecy, guilt, morality, and shame.

Confessions of the Letter Closet
draws on queer theory and psychoanalysis, archival research on letter writing as a social practice, and historical insights into the impact of Spanish laws regarding the inviolability of correspondence on epistolary fiction. Garlinger examines how the epistolary novel represents—and is implicated in—the homophobia and psychic ambivalence around sexuality and identity with which Spanish gays and lesbians struggle, despite significant legal advances and increased social tolerance. Addressing both male and female desire and drawing links to epistolary traditions outside Spain, Confessions of the Letter Closet goes beyond the specifics of Spanish literature to contribute more broadly to queer theory, the study of epistolary fiction, and an understanding of autobiography and confessional discourse.

Confessions of the Letter Closet

Patrick Paul Garlinger is assistant professor of Spanish at Northwestern University.

Confessions of the Letter Closet

This book offers a supple, subtle, argument for reading literature, culture, and identity as part of the practice of everyday life.

Brad Epps, Harvard University

Confessions of the Letter Closet

CONTENT

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Confession,Sexuality,Epistolarity

Part I. queer traces

1. Archival Resurrections of Queer Desire in Miguel de Unamuno
2. Specters of Lesbian Desire:Love Letters and Queer Readers in Carmen Martín Gaite

PART II. CLOSET CONFESSIONS

3. The Ethics of Outing in Luis Antonio de Villena
4. A Witness to Mourning:Memory and Testimony in Carme Riera

PART III. EPISTOLARY POLITICS

5. Pleasurable Insurrections:Sexual Liberation and Epistolary Anarchy
6. E-mail,AIDS,and Virtual Sexuality in Lluís Fernàndez

Postscript
Notes
Bibliography

Index