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'To desire, to belong': homosexual identity in the lives and writing of Compton Mackenzie, Norman Douglas and D.H. Lawrence

Booth, Howard J. (1997) 'To desire, to belong': homosexual identity in the lives and writing of Compton Mackenzie, Norman Douglas and D.H. Lawrence. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86138) (KAR id:86138)


This book addresses the negotiation of male subjects with same-sex desire in the sixty year period around the year 1900. It focuses particularly on authors who were active in the 1920s and resident for extended periods in Italy, namely Norman Douglas (1868-1952), D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) and Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972). It also looks at the reactions of Douglas and Lawrence to the life and writing of Maurice Magnus (1876-1920). The volume seeks to make an intervention in debate in lesbian and gay studies, advocating the necessity of addressing the experience of the subject in relation to available sexual identities. To map this set of relations the psychoanalytic concept of identification is utilised. A model of reading the work of these writers is proposed which looks at their relation to the discourses in which the validity of same-sex desire was being contested. The introduction seeks to set out this theoretical model, and also looks, as an example, at the life and writing of John Addington Symonds. The first chapter considers the work of Compton Mackenzie, and his view that life is a matter of the taking on of roles - homosexuality being, for Mackenzie, the 'bad' role. There is a discussion of the differing conceptions of the subject in circulation at the time, and of issues around 'performativity' and depth psychology. The second chapter looks at Norman Douglas, suggesting that there are many ways in which the subject could engage with available indentities, rather than just a small number of positive engagements. The consideration of Douglas allows for a problematization of the perhaps expected relations between sexual practice and sites of constriction and reticence. With Lawrence, in chapter three, the issue of repression is approached directly. Rather than looking at relations between men in a few chapters of some of the novels, recently available or new material is brought forward to discuss his response to same-sex desire. In order to show the importance of interactions between a number of individuals, the fourth chapter looks at the relations of Norman Douglas and D.H. Lawrence with Maurice Magnus. Here, as throughout the book, the relation of same-sex desire to writing is foregrounded; also, material on the same-sex desiring subject in a hostile social sphere is discussed. Finally ,the conclusion examines texts by Douglas, Lawrence and Mackenzie from 1928, that year of the scandalous publication. The reception of these supposedly transgressive texts provides the focus here.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86138
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: D.H. Lawrence; Norman Douglas; Compton Mackenzie; Maurice Magnus; homosexuality; psychology; literature
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ21 Sexual behavior and attitudes
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:29 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 06:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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