Synopses & Reviews
Colm Tóibín knows the languages of the outsider, the secret keeper, the gay man or woman. He knows the covert and overt language of homosexuality in literature. In Love in a Dark Time,
he also describes the solace of finding like-minded companions through reading.
Tóibín examines the life and work of some of the greatest and most influential writers of the past two centuries, figures whose homosexuality remained hidden or oblique for much of their lives, either by choice or necessity. The larger world couldn't know about their sexuality, but in their private lives, and in the spirit of their work, the laws of desire defined their expression.
This is an intimate encounter with Mann, Baldwin, Bishop, and with the contemporary poets Thom Gunn and Mark Doty. Through their work, Tóibín is able to come to terms with his own inner desires -- his interest in secret erotic energy, his admiration for courageous figures, and his abiding fascination with sadness and tragedy. Tóibín looks both at writers forced to disguise their true experience on the page and at readers who find solace and sexual identity by reading between the lines.
"An exploration of gay sensibility in literature, read artfully between the lines....Toibín expresses a companionable solace here, but at what a price." Kirkus Reviews
"It is Colm Tóibín's great strength that he is able to attune himself to nuances, and to the ways in which people 'invent' themselves." John Garnder, The Times Literary Supplement
"Tóibín writes with high-voltage restraint; his sentences are masterfully devoid of trickery...He is tuned in to the silent language of families, the messages that are unspoken and slip past the rest of the world, landing deep into the hearts of those who understand." Robert Sullivan, Vogue
"Tóibín demonstrates wonderfully how a dedicated writer always thinks with other writers: their lives and sexuality, as well as their work. Tóibín can be engagingly mischievous and witty, but is deeply serious about books." Ruth Padel, Financial Times
"Is it permissible even to speak, as so many do nowadays, of a 'gay community'? Tóibín treats [this] and many other questions with confidence and authority, both of which attributes are only strengthened by the moderation of his tone and the depth of his compassion." John Banville, Irish Times
About the Author
Hailed by the Irish Independent as “the best Irish writer of his generation,” Colm Tóibín won the American Academy of Art and Letters’ E. M. Forster prize in 1995. For The South, his first novel, Tóibín received the 1991 Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literature Prize. The Heather Blazing received the Encore Award for best second novel of 1992. The Blackwater Lightship, his most recent novel, was a finalist for the 1999 Booker Prize and the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Tóibín is the author of three non-fiction books, Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border, Homage to Barcelona, and The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe. He is also the co-editor, with Carmen Callil, of The Modern Library: The 200 Best Novels in English Since 1950.
Colm Tóibín lives in Dublin.
Table of Contents
Roaming the Greenwood
Oscar Wilde: Love in a Dark Time
Roger Casement: Sex, Lies and the Black Diaries
Thomas Mann: Exit Pursued by Biographers
Francis Bacon: The Art of Looking
Elizabeth Bishop: Making the Casual Perfect
James Baldwin: The Flesh and the Devil
Thom Gunn: The Energy of the Present
Pedro Almodóvar: The Laws of Desire
Mark Doty: The Search for Redemption
Good-bye to Catholic Ireland