The Ruling Passion: British Colonial Allegory and the Paradox of Homosexual Desire

TitleThe Ruling Passion: British Colonial Allegory and the Paradox of Homosexual Desire
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsLane, Christopher
Number of Pages326
PublisherDuke University Press
CityDurham, NC
Abstract

In this volume, the author examines the relationship between masculinity, homosexual desire, and empire in British colonialist and imperialist fictions at the turn of the twentieth century. Questioning the popular assumption that Britain’s empire functioned with symbolic efficiency on sublimated desire, this book presents a counterhistory of the empire’s many layers of conflict and ambivalence. Through the use of psychoanalytic theory and readings of sexual and political allegory in the work of Kipling, Forster, James, Beerbohm, Firbank, and others, this volume interprets turbulent scenes of masculine identification and pleasure, power and mastery, intimacy and antagonism. By foregrounding the shattering effects of male homosexuality and interracial desire, and by insisting on the centrality of unconscious fantasy and the death drive, this volume examines the startling recurrence of colonial failure in narratives of symbolic doubt and ontological crisis. The author argues that Britain can progress culturally and politically only when it has relinquished its residual fantasies of global mastery.

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