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Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity$
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Daniel Orrells

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199236442

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236442.001.0001

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Trying Greek Love: Oscar Wilde and E. M. Forster's Maurice

Trying Greek Love: Oscar Wilde and E. M. Forster's Maurice

(p.185) 4 Trying Greek Love: Oscar Wilde and E. M. Forster's Maurice
Classical Culture and Modern Masculinity

Daniel Orrells

Oxford University Press

Chapters one to three examined serious scholarly attempts to historicize ancient Greek pederasty. The historicisms of the German and British universities, however, produced graduates who developed altogether more self‐consciously rhetorical, metaphorical translations of ancient pederastic pedagogy. In the texts of Oscar Wilde, E. M. Forster and Sigmund Freud, the Greek teaching scene becomes a far more flexible model for thinking about the formation of modern masculinity in relation to ancient counterparts. In chapter four, we consider the most infamous product of Oxford Hellenism, Oscar Wilde and his courtroom speech of 1895 in defence of male love and friendship, to ask what he thought he was doing: what did Wilde mean by “Platonic love”? Could a Platonic lesson be taught outside Oxford's cloisters in a public setting? The chapter continues by examining the reverberations and resonances of Wilde's speech in his later writing, De Profundis, and in E. M. Forster's Maurice.

Keywords:   Wilde, law‐court speech, Platonic love, De Profundis, Christ, Forster, Maurice

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