Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Gay Erotica in Morris's Works
One of Rosie Miles’s students once brilliantly suggested the possibility of a lesbian attraction between Clara and Ellen in News from Nowhere, so, to expand the opportunities for gay readings of Morris’s utopia, I’ve spliced together passages from it and one other of his later works to reveal what I suspect is the implicit logic of a small incident towards the end of the book. I shall let you, dear reader, work out what the other Morris text is:
Dick came with hasty cheerfulness up the garden path: ‘Perhaps you, Guest, would like a swim before we sit down?’ ‘It is well-thought of, lad,’ I answered, ‘and that the more, as I must needs see thee naked if I am to strengthen thee, as I am minded to do’. He led on till we came to the river above the weir and its mill. There we had a delightful swim in the broad piece of water above the lock, for if Dick were a noble-looking man clad, far nobler was he to look on naked, for he was both big and well-shapen, so that better might not be. So I came out of the water presently, and clad myself, while Dick yet played awhile. Then I called the lad to me, all naked as he was, and said: Stand thou before me, youngling, and I will give thee a gift. And I laid my hands on the head of him first, and let them abide there awhile; then I passed my hands over the arms and shoulders of the boy, and his legs and thighs and breast, and all over his body. Then we lay down on the greensward and rested. ‘Now we are in a fit mood for dinner,’ said Dick, when we had dressed and were going through the grass again (ch.XXXII).