The Textuality of Sexuality: Interpreting Homosexuality in Two European Inter-War Narratives
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionComparative Literature Studies. 2021, 58 (4), 722-743. 10.5325/complitstudies.58.4.0722
ABSTRACT This article is a comparative reading of the novella Verwirrung der Gefühle (1927) by the Austrian author Stefan Zweig and the novel Følelsers forvirring (1937) by the Norwegian author Borghild Krane. While both titles translate as Confusion of Emotions, and both deal with the fates of homosexuals, this is the first study to ask how the connections betweeen the two works create literary meaning, and what this might imply for the textual mode of existence of homosexuality. Employing poststructuralist theories on the textuality of sexuality, this article argues that interpretation of linguistic and cultural signs is fundamental to the idea of homosexuality in the European inter-war years. Positing the existence of a homocultural code, the article explores in depth how the ability to understand and reproduce a particular system of references is depicted as vital in understanding same-sex attraction. Moreover, the article argues that the way Krane intertextually connects her novel to Zweig's novella should be read as symbolic of how the homosexual condition is marked by the mastering of various codes.