Review: Oxford Journal.  The Review of English Studies
Pembroke College Oxford by DOUGLAS HEWITT +

If Bracco can be praised for sobriety and balance the same can hardly be said for

Geoffrey Clarke. His subtitle is 'A study of aesthetics of the masculine novel of action

and the romance form in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods', and he covers

much the same ground as other critics of the writers whom he discusses: the assurance

of white dominance, the proof from technological superiority, the enrolling of 'loyal

natives' against 'savages', and so forth. But, lying behind all these commonplaces, is a

conviction of the 'homosocial' nature of this literature. Public schools, regiments,

exploration parties, and other exclusively male groups which figure so largely in this

literature certainly produced rituals and loyalties which generated male bonding at

various emotional levels and they are described often enough. But Clarke is chiefly

concerned with the characteristics of the writers. Kipling, he asserts, 'was genitally

homosexual in his proclivities'. His co-operation with Haggard is characterized as

'their fulsome affair' and the friendship of Henley and Stevenson is a 'lascivious bond'.

The paragraph from which Clarke takes his title contains, it seems to me, an

interesting idea which could be enlightening about the nature of books which may be

for boys and may be for adults, spoiled by a King Charles's head:

Haggard dedicated his novel, King Solomon's Mines, to all the big and little boys

who read it, drawing attention, thereby, to its readership, boys with men looking

over their shoulder; the boyhood of many a repressed Victorian schoolboy sexually

heightened by delighting in prurience.