Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
—Groucho Marx (via observando)
—Groucho Marx (via observando)
Beginning today and lasting to the end of the summer, the New Yorker website is free — and includes its complete archive. Our humble suggestions of where to begin your reading frenzy.
OMG. I found an excuse to hang out in a coffee house in the Big City for 3 hours in the afternoon every day this week. Heaven. : )
I will use the term “romantic friendship” to describe a close affectionate relationship between two men who were social equals. The term has been used extensively in scholarship focusing on the effusive writings of young male couples during the mid-nineteenth century, usually with the implied understanding that the relationship was not sexual (despite the steamy rhetoric of the surviving correspondence). I will use the term with the explicit contention that a romantic friendship might indeed have included a sexual component, since I have come to believe that eighteenth-century Americans did not draw borders around sexual behavior with quite the clarity and severity of their Victorian successors. A fluidity to male intimacy admitted a wide repertoire of physical expression, and those expressions ebbed and flowed with time and circumstance.
Romantic friendships usually arose between men of similar age and social class. The relationships were passionate but in most cases fleeting, not because the men were unable or unwilling to make a lasting commitment, but because they could not envision a future in which they could ever consider themselves to be a recognized couple. America included only one city that could begin to rival the size and social complexity of Berlin, Paris, or London. Only Philadelphia was large enough to provide men-loving men with the anonymity of numbers. In rural areas among the lower classes it might be possible for two men to live their lives together working the same farm or pursuing the same craft, but in more urban areas, especially among the socially prominent (whose stories are the ones most likely to be preserved in surviving documents), heterosexual marriage was the only acceptable goal. Men entered into romantic friendships with the understanding that one - and probably both - of the partners would eventually marry and establish a traditional family. Though many tried to maintain an emotional connection with their partner, the demands of their new roles as husband and father rarely allowed for continued intimacy. This arc from passionate devotion to wistful nostalgia is documented again and again whenever long runs of male-male letters have been preserved.
William Benemann, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America (via publius-esquire)
Yes to this. And similar things could be said from what I recall of female romantic friendships. I too am open to their being a sexual component for the reasons mentioned above. Not knowing or not having a smoking gun does not mean it didn’t happen.
Women in such relationships had different challenges, especially tied to their economic positions in society. For example, it often made most economic sense for a woman to marry a man and set up her own household, even if she dreaded the burdens and dangers associated with being a wife and mother in this period. Mobility was a challenge too, especially for middle- and upper-class women who worried about their reputations.(via songstersmiscellany)
A kitten aboard a floating Victoria water lily pad in the Philippines, 1935.Photograph by Alfred T. Palmer, National Geographic Creative