By Christopher Bram
« La révolution homosexual fut d’abord et avant tout une révolution littéraire. » Au lendemain de l. a. Seconde Guerre mondiale, une nouvelle génération d’écrivains américains s’est imposée. Leurs noms ? Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg ou encore, plus près de nous, Christopher Isherwood, Edmund White, Tony Kushner, Armistead Maupin.
Point commun de tous ces écrivains, outre l’insolence de leur talent ? Leur homosexualité – cachée pour les uns, revendiquée pour les autres, envers et contre toutes les discriminations. Du mouvement des droits civiques à l’apparition du sida, loin des cortèges de manifestants et sans jamais avoir fait école ni sacrifié à l’esprit de chapelle, c’est par leurs œuvres que ces « anges batailleurs » ont brisé les préjugés et ouvert l. a. voie à une modernité littéraire, politique et sociale aujourd’hui encore bousculée. Dans cet essai émaillé d’anecdotes et de pix passionnants, Christopher Bram nous invite à découvrir ou à relire quelques-uns des plus grands auteurs américains sous un jour inédit. Preuve que los angeles littérature est toujours à l’avant-garde.
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Extra info for Anges batailleurs : Les écrivains gays en Amérique, de Tennessee Williams à Armistead Maupin
In order to cultivate a general sense of connection between people in an atomized (in more ways than one) society, artists should start with their own friends. Goodman advises them to write personally for and about them and to celebrate everyday social occurrences by writing occasional poems for weddings, funerals, and birthdays; in due course, he hopes, such communion would move outward and heal the estrangement of a wider society. Previewing the communitarian ethos that would ﬂourish in the 1960s, Goodman’s idealistic vision holds that small, intimate communities could be a form of resistance to a vast, homogenous, alienating society and could offer an alternative universe where people are free to create a sustaining sense of kinship.
As space is disappearing and your singularity” (CP, 236). We can hear it in Ashbery’s declaration that “the past is dust and ashes, and this incommensurably wide way leads to the pragmatic and kinetic future” (TP, 106) and in Baraka’s revelation that “I think / I know now / what a poem / is) A / turning away . . from what / it was / had moved us” (T, 41). In an eloquent discussion, the philosopher Stanley Cavell views such archetypal moments of relinquishment and abandonment as encompassing a complex, 24 Beautiful Enemies and deeply American, mixture of loss and exhilaration: “This departure, such setting out, is, in our poverty, what hope consists in, all there is to hope for; it is the abandoning of despair, which is otherwise our condition .
This book will emphasize that darker, more disturbing side of this intellectual temperament and its confrontation with contingency. It will consider the vertigo, the shadow that so often lends American poetry its great pathos and power. That vertigo, the feeling that “there is a sickness built into this act of moving” which Ashbery mentions in one poem, comes about in part because the call for abandonment has an explicitly social, interpersonal dimension, one that weighs heavily on the poets I focus on in this book (TP, 31).