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Bertram Cope's year de Henry Blake Fuller

Bertram Cope's year (edição: 1998)

de Henry Blake Fuller

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1346162,254 (4)3
"Entertaining . . . eminently readable, distinguished by beautifully evoked period atmosphere and sly humor."--The New York Times America's first gay novel, published in 1919.
Título:Bertram Cope's year
Autores:Henry Blake Fuller
Informação:Chappaqua, NY: Turtle Point Press, 1998. p. cm.
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Bertram Cope's Year de Henry Blake Fuller

Adicionado recentemente porPCNJ, newty, crtsjffrsn, Vertumnus, DSMPC, alliepascal, jiminsyr, gsc55, DBal, Androphiles
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Bertram Cope is a young man who's gone off to study at college and quickly taken in by Medora Phillips, a wealthy society woman. Bertram falls into their world quickly and Mrs. Phillips tries her best to set him up with several of the eligible young women in her circle. But Bertram's focus is only on Arthur, his friend and eventual housemate. But not everyone is as enamored of Arthur as Bertram is, and that can prove to be a problem.

This book is definitely a product of its time, having been written in 1918. The humor here is a bit haughty and almost reminded me a bit of an Oscar Wilde comedy. There is no steamy scenes here and the romantic overtones are subtle, but for the early 1900s, I can't help wondering if this was a bit of a groundbreaking story for its time. ( )
  crtsjffrsn | Aug 27, 2021 |
Bertram Cope spends a year to complete his master's degree, and his appearance at the small university town attracts the attention of the local society circle. Pursued by by the indomitable Mrs Medora Phillips and her young female charges who compete with now not so young Basil Randolph for the new student's attention, the hapless young Bertram tries to make the best of it and satisfy his admires, and along the way inadvertently becomes a little too attached to one or other of Medora's girls. Bertram's only hope is for the arrival of his very close friend Arthur to rescue him.

A charming read, a mild comedy of manners with the handsome slender Bertram the centre of attention for some and for those who know him less well more a topic for amusement or even annoyance. Set in the early C20th this is very much of its time, and the gay undercurrent while never openly addressed is more than apparent in both the relationship between Bertram and Arthur, and in Randolph's intense interest in the young man. ( )
  presto | Dec 21, 2016 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: In 1918, when Henry Blake Fuller was 62 years old, he completed the manuscript of a novel, Bertram Cope's Year. Though Fuller was well known as an accomplished realist and had published twelve previous novels, this work was his first published fiction to address the topic of homosexuality. In the novel Bertram Cope, a handsome young college student, is befriended by Medora Phillips, a wealthy older woman who tries to match him with several eligible young women. However, Bertram is emotionally attached only to his friend and housemate, Arthur Lemoyne. The novel's portrayal of their friendship is subtle, but has clear overtones of sexual attraction. They are a happy couple, their domestic tranquility only interrupted by Lemoyne's penchant for amateur theatrics. Performing in an all-male musical comedy, Lemoyne's female impersonation is a little too good. After he makes a pass at a straight actor and is hounded from both his studies and his job.

Bertram Cope's Year a subtle novel about homosexuals in Chicago, and Fuller's best-remembered and most notable work. In the time it was first self-published, the work puzzled critics and embarrassed Fuller's friends. In the last part of the 20th century, it finally received enthusiastic reviews and the serious attention it deserves.

My Review: ( )
1 vote richardderus | Sep 21, 2014 |
There are two kinds of forgotten writer. One is vaguely remembered when perusing a book shelf or in passing conversation. Hamlin Garland – didn’t he write about farmers? Or maybe William Dean Howells – didn’t he used to be considered one of America’s greatest writers? This is a precarious and perhaps the most painful of literary deaths, being half-remembered and half-forgotten. Perhaps more graceful is the obsolescence of the completely and utterly forgotten. These include George Washington Cable, Zitkala-Sa, or, alas, the subject of this review, Henry Flake Fuller and his novel “Bertram Cope’s Year.”

To be quite frank, we need not mourn the cultural loss of every writer who ever set pen to paper and, judging solely from my reading of “Bertram Cope’s Year,” the only novel I’ve read by him, Fuller is one of those writers. My Triangle Classics edition has a very generous introduction full of biographical and literary material written by Edmund Wilson and originally published in the New Yorker in 1970, which hails him as an important American writer of the early twentieth century. Wilson has been known to tend toward the effusive in his praise.

The novel tells the story of Bertram Cope, fresh from undergraduate school, who has decided that pursing a Master’s degree might further his career prospects. He soon falls under the heavy-handed charms of the grande dame of local literary society, Medora Phillips and the three young ingénues, including a poet and a composer, whom she supports with her independent wealth. Somehow, magically – by his ravishing good looks, his innocence newness to the place? – all of these women are attracted to him, inviting him to endless teas and evening soirees. There’s even an older man named Basil Randolph who frequents these get-togethers looking for young men from the university to “mentor,” and is frustrated by Bertram’s constant passive-aggressive rebuffs.

At home, however, Bertram writes to his friend Arthur Lemoyne, telling him how much he misses him and wants to see him. Eventually, Arthur discusses moving to live with Bertram in order to see if he can get a role in the local musical productions at the university. Locals are a little surprised when Arthur is cast in the role of a woman in the musical, but they naively don’t read much into it. The novel ends with Bertram graduating with his degree and going back home without Arthur, who made an overt pass at one of the male members of the musical cast.

This is a novel of manners, particularly highly stylized because the subject matter demands a cloak of ambiguity. Fuller never mentions the word the word “homosexual,” and the entire book is completely devoid of sexual behavior of any kind beyond a little heterosexual flirtation here and there. The ambiguity seemed a little too much for even some of its more literary readership. The American Library Association’s publication Booklist described it “a story of superficial social university life in a suburb of Chicago, with live enough people and a sense of humor hovering near the surface." “New Outlook” said that “the study of this weak but agreeable man is subtle but far from exciting." The cluelessness of these reactions and their lack of ability to interpret social situations is a credit to Flake’s subtlety, even a century later when what we sometimes identify as “gay fiction” is anything but subtle or stylized.

This novel struck me very much as Radclyffe Hall’s “Well of Loneliness” or Virgilio Pinera’s “Le carne de Rene” did – full of historical interest, but ultimately failing short of being the timeless LGBT fiction they’re often vaunted to be. The manneristic writing, roughly contemporary with the later novels of Henry James, hasn’t aged nearly as well. The criticism of small, bourgeois minds is nothing new and isn’t handled particularly deftly. However, as a “gay novel,” it stands out as more than just a bizarre curio of literary history. It is, probably accurately, called the first gay novel published in the United States, in 1919. This alone should earn it some attention, even if Bertram and his worldly sprezzatura don’t brashly shove more contemporary expectations in our face. ( )
1 vote kant1066 | Jun 13, 2013 |
I find it hard to believe that this book was written in 1919. More unbelievable still is that the author, Henry Fuller Blake, praised by many of his more illustrious contemporaries such as Thornton Wilder and Booth Tarkington, sank into almost total obscurity.

This novel is an utter delight. It tells the story of Bertram Cope, a blonde, blue-eyed country boy who takes a post as a college English teacher in a moderately large Michigan city and manages to attract the ardent admiration of everyone in town - both female and male. It presents lighthearted social commentary [along the lines of Jane Austen’s work], as young Cope’s continuous mishaps and social blunders only serve to make him more fascinating to everyone he encounters, including a wealthy widow, the three eligible young ladies renting rooms in her stately home and a middle-aged [confirmed bachelor] professor. They all openly compete for his time and affections until he is compelled to summon Arthur Lemoyne, his hometown sweetheart, to extract him from their romantic designs on him.

While the homosexuality of Bertram, Arthur and Basil Randolph (the admiring professor) is never stated outright and is presented extremely coyly by modern standards, there is no doubt what these characters are all about. That, in and of itself, might seem surprising, but more thrilling still is the matter-of-factness with which it’s presented. This suggests that, even way back then, certain social groups (academians, artists and the upper classes) displayed a degree of sophistication and even tolerance toward homosexuals. There’s something quite refreshing in reading a story about a gay man without tragedy or sermonizing. All the more so because it is nearly one hundred years old.

That said, I should stress that the language seems only slightly formal and is not at all arduous to read. Quite the contrary in fact, Fuller writes with a breezy facility that makes the story bounce along apace. The dialogue is succinct and sharp, and the characters are beautifully realized and are all "types" that can be easily recognized and appreciated by modern-day readers. I particularly enjoyed Medora Phillips, the widowed socialite, who, in her relentless pursuit of Cope, would certainly be classified as a cougar if she were around today. Equally enchanting are her three lovestruck young boarders - impetuous Amy, somber Carolyn and hot-headed Hortense - a musician, poet and painter, respectively, all straight out of Downton Abbey.

I can’t recommend this one enough. For anyone interested in an alternative to those dour, and better known, early gay standbys Brideshead Revisited and Maurice, this is definitely worth a look. ( )
  blakefraina | Jul 20, 2012 |
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