By Frederick S. Roden (auth.)
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Extra info for Same-Sex Desire in Victorian Religious Culture
The glorification of love in the monastery encompassed various forms of desire. While monasticism in the nineteenth century may not be described as a homosexual, or even homoerotic space, it can certainly be designated queer in its sense of difference. In this respect, the medievalism of Victorian religion was not only a search for a spiritual continuum, but also at moments a historical location for the development and even affirmation of same-sex desire. As the century progressed, an awareness of this difference is further articulated.
Intuitively this practice is the very opposite of mundane monogamy, yet it is committed to singular love of God. Dalgairns observes: 'It was necessary then that all within the circle should share this love alike' (131). Boundaries to love's expression for preserving communal stasis and integrity are crucial, as the biographer explains. If brother Ambrose and brother Benedict were to swear a deathless friendship, and to put their black cowls together in recreation-time, and never talk to anyone else, the other brethren might well think themselves aggrieved.
He entertains the notion that Rossetti would have had two prospective audiences for her poem: a 'general public' of 'mean capacities' and a small audience of minds capable of catching 'refined clues' (1987, 63). Subtle indirections in this poem include the seeds of Rossetti's theology, so this theory is not easily dismissed. The significance of this work for a female community, in the transformation of paSSions, is worth consideration beyond the reformation/conversion rhetoric Bentley asserts. However, while he provides a thorough sacramental reading of the poem, he neglects the place of same-sex desire.