dimanche 24 juillet 2016

Arthur Cravan critique d'art

Le quatrième numéro de la revue Maintenant, "numéro spécial", est tout entier consacré à une attaque en règle contre l'exposition des Indépendants de 1914. D'entrée de jeu, Arthur Cravan (1887-1918) annonce la couleur : il méprise la peinture et s'il rend compte de cette exposition, c'est "pour faire parler de moi et tenter de me faire un nom." Il vise donc d'abord le scandale. Et puis il ne peut résister au plaisir de dire leur fait aux "sales gueules d'artistes" qui se pressent sous les tentes où on expose les oeuvres. Après avoir proclamé préférer la photographie à la peinture, Cravan oppose à la faune des artistes parisiens, peintres et écrivains confondus dans la même aversion, avec leurs corps rabougris, leurs mines pâles, les "jeunes Américains d'un mètre quatre-vingt dix, heureux dans leurs épaules, qui savent boxer et qui viennent des pays arrosés par le Mississippi, où nagent les Nègres avec des mufles d'hippopotames...". Il va sans dire que la vie est du côté des garçons heureux dans leurs épaules [...], la modernité du côté de New York et de ses gratte-ciel, et non du côté des artistes, des intellectuels, des cérébraux. Ceux-ci ont le tort immense de préférer l'intelligence et de mépriser le corps, alors que, selon Cravan, "le génie n'est qu'une manifestation extravagante du corps" et donc il "ne trouve un être intelligent seulement lorsque son intelligence à un tempérament." Le ton et le langage sont incroyablement féroces. Suzanne Valadon est traitée de "vieille salope". Les plus chanceux sont exécutés en deux mots: "Malevitch, du chiqué. Alfred Hagin, triste, triste. Peské, t'es moche. [...] Deltombe, quel con ! Aurora Folquer, et ta soeur ?" Robert Delaunay, lui, a droit à plusieurs pages d'où il ressort tout à fait amoché : "M. Delaunay qui a une gueule de porc enflammé ou de cocher de grande maison pouvait ambitionner avec une pareille hure de faire une peinture de brute. L'extérieur était prometteur, l'intérieur valait peu de chose. J'exagère probablement en disant que l'apparence phénoménale de Delaunay était quelque chose d'admirable. Au physique, c'est un fromage mou : il court avec peine et Robert a quelque peine à lancer un caillou à trente mètres." Quant à Marie Laurencin, "en voilà une qui aurait besoin qu'on lui relève les jupes et qu'on lui mette une grosse... quelque part pour lui apprendre que l'art n'est pas une petite pose devant le miroir."

Jean-Emile Laboureur, qui expose un tableau intitulé Le Café du commerce, est mieux traité : "Ses toiles, bien qu'encore sales, ont quelque vie, surtout celle qui montre un café avec des joueurs de billard; mais le plaisir qu'on a de la regarder n'est pas immense parce qu'elle n'est pas assez différente." La critique officielle, en la personne d'André Salmon n'y voit, elle, nulle vie et accuse Laboureur de copier précisément Marie Laurencin : "C'est le même soin d'une morale des lignes, mais combien anémiée!". [...] Mais on aurait tort de prendre Cravan au mot et de voir dans les jugements à l'emporte-pièce du poète-pugiliste, neveu d'Oscar Wilde, un simple exercice dans l'art de la provocation. Cravan défend aussi ses propres conceptions esthétiques. S'il déclare préférer "les excentricités d'un esprit même banal aux oeuvres plates d'un imbécile bourgeois" et s'il n'est pas tendre pour les "pompiers des Beaux-Arts" et pour les impressionnistes, Cravan va plus loin, dépasse les querelles d'écoles, de chapelles pour faire de la peinture une critique radicale. Aux cubistes et aux futuristes il reproche de faire du chiqué, de peindre en artistes roublards et non en brutes, en innocents: "Il faudrait un génie aux cubistes pour peindre sans truquages et sans procédés". Il ne leur trouve pas plus de sincérité qu'aux peintres officiels: "On sent comme devant toutes les toiles cubistes qu'il devrait y avoir quelque chose, mais quoi ? La beauté, bougre d'idiot !"


La beauté, tout est là. Derrière les trucs, les procédés, les recettes et les "petites discussions sur l'esthétique dans les cafés" se dissimule l'impuissance de l'art pictural à rendre la vie : "Le futurisme [...] aura le même défaut que l'école impressionniste : la sensibilité unique de l'oeil. On dirait que c'est une mouche, et une mouche frivole qui voit la nature et non pas une mouche qui s'enivre de la merde, car ce qui est odeur ou son est toujours absent avec tout ce qui semble impossible à mettre en peinture et qui est justement tout." Les artistes ne peuvent voir la beauté précisément parce qu'ils dissocient l'esprit du corps. Cravan est formel : "Tout d'abord, je trouve que la première condition pour un artiste est de savoir nager. Je sens également que l'art, à l'état mystérieux de la forme chez un lutteur, a plutôt son siège dans le ventre que dans le cerveau, et c'est pourquoi je m'exaspère lorsque je suis devant une toile et que je vois, quand j'évoque l'homme, se dresser seulement une tête. Où sont les jambes, la rate et le foie ?"

Personne ne sera donc surpris que Cravan réserve ses attaques les plus violentes aux défenseurs de l'art pour l'art, qui croient la peinture supérieure à la nature, et notamment aux artistes russes. "Je ne peux avoir que du dégoût, écrit-il, pour la peinture d'un Chagall ou Chacal, qui vous montrera un homme versant du pétrole dans le trou du cul d'une vache, quand la véritable folie elle-même ne peut me plaire parce qu'elle met uniquement en évidence un cerveau alors que le génie n'est qu'une manifestation extravagante du corps." La peinture, "c'est marcher, courir, boire, manger, dormir et faire ses besoins. Vous aurez beau dire que je suis un dégueulasse, c'est tout ça". Ce que veut Cravan, c'est "de la peinture qui serait simplement voyou", une approche directe, immédiate, innocente de la vie et de la beauté, l'approche qu'aurait un enfant ou un boxeur, une approche qui ressemble à la grâce et n'a rien à voir avec l'intelligence. Alors que les artistes oublient le triste enseignement des académies et qu'ils lui préfèrent celui du critique brutal : "Allez courir dans les champs, traverser les plaines à fond de train comme un cheval, sautez à la corde et, quand vous aurez six ans, vous ne saurez plus rien et vous verrez des choses insensées."

sources :
http://www.excentriques.com/cravan/paint-critic.html
http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/dada/Maintenant/4/index.htm
http://arthur-cravan.blogspot.com/2008/02/revue-maintenant-numero-4-mars-1914.html

Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen in Capri

Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen (1880-1923) purchased land in the small valley of Unghia Murana on a hill opposite the ruins of Tiberius' palace in 1903. He commissioned his friend Edouard Chimot to design a villa and hired a local contractor to build it. The construction of the villa was finally completed in July 1905 and a young construction worker selling newspapers, Antonio (Nino) Cesarini (1890-1943), whom Fersen "met" in Roma, was invited to put in place the stone with the inscription "L’an 1905 / cette villa fut construite / par Jacques / Cte Adelswärd Fersen / et dédiée / à la jeunesse d'amour."



At seventeen, the boy was in Jacques' eyes in the full glory of his youthful bloom. Such beauty needed preservation, and Jacques commissioned a number of artists to immortalize him. Nino's portrait was painted by Umberto Brunelleschi (1879-1949). The sculptor Francesco Ierace (1854-1937), whose atelier was in Naples, cast Nino's image in bronze after photos (c. 1906). A new painting of Nino (c. 1908) was also executed by Paul Höcker (1854-1910). The photo of Nino on the terrace of Villa Lysis dates from about this time. The boy is wearing a toga, with a diadem around his head and in his left hand is holding a small Nike on a globe, symbols traditionally associated with the power of Roman gods and emperors.



Guglielmo Plüschow (1852-1930) was a regular visitor, and maybe Villa Lysis was placed at his disposal as a studio. On one picture , we can see a nude young boy, resting on a sofa, with a skull resting on a pillow above his head. To the left of the photo, painting of Nino by Paul Höcker is hanging on the wall. Plüschow made many photos of Nino ; some of them have been published now including a frontal nude. Celebrating Nino's twentieth birthday, Adelswärd gave a party associated with Nino's call-up for military service : on this special occasion, he "elevated" the boy to a "soldier of Mithras". Jacques and his guest were playing parts while Singhalese houseboys, dressed as "the slaves", administered twenty lashes to Nino's bare buttocks.




Early in 1911 Nino was discharged from military service and finally returned to Capri. With the outbreak of war in 1914, Jacques was asked to present himself for military service. In the French consulate in Naples, he was found unfit for combat and was sent to a hospital to be cured of addiction, though he secretly compensated for his abstinence from opium with the use of cocaine. Nino was wounded in battle and sent to a hospital in Milan to recover. Jacques returned to Capri, his doctors having declared him incurably ill.




In Villa Lysis, he took up his old habits and spent most of his time treading back and forth between his study and smoking room. His last published volume of poetry appeared in 1921, Hei Hsiang. Le parfum noir (Hei Hsiang: The black perfume), almost entirely devoted to opium. Corrado Annicelli (1905-1984), who was more of a sly fox than a “petit faune” as Jacques called him, visited regularly Villa Lysis. On 15 October Jacques felt that his end was approaching.

"Je veux brûler ma vie sur un brasier de corps
Et, pareil au tétrarque ou pareil à l'esclave,
Mourir en étreignant le Jeune Homme et la Mort !"
(Jacques d'Adelswärd-Fersen, "Elagabal", in Paradinya, 1911)

He departed hastily for Sorrento to pick up Corrado and intended there to buy some new cocaine at the clandestine market, before departing for Naples. The next day Nino picked them up and took them to Capri. Jacques died after supper that same evening - of an overdose of cocaine dissolved in a glass of champagne.



In order to safeguard the inheritance, Jacques' family spread the rumor that he was poisoned by Nino out of jealousy, but the authorities in Naples lent no support to their accusations. The ashes were placed in the non-Catholic cemetery in Capri. His grave is on a hillside, opposite that of Norman Douglas, whose gravestone bears the inscription, "Omnes eodem cogimur" (We all gather at the same place). In accordance with Jacques’ stipulations, Nino received 302 shares of the steel mills in Longwy, all credits of Jacques’ bank-accounts in Paris, Naples and Capri, and all the money in Jacques’ purse and in the villa at the moment of his death. Nino also received the right to inhabit the villa, but sold this right to Jacques' sister for 200,000 lira. His portrait by Brunelleschi and his statue by Ierace were sold to a Swiss antiquarian and have since disappeared. He returned to Rome, where he owned a newspaper kiosk and a bar, and died in middle-age in a Roman hospital in 1943. Corrado became a talented actor.



sources :
http://semgai.free.fr/doc_et_pdf/Fersen-engels.pdf
http://www.interviu.it/turismo/capri/villa_lysis.htm
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k62409w.zoom.f&.pagination
http://www.pbase.com/adalberto_tiburzi/capri_villa_lysis_

Oscar Wilde & Alfred Douglas in Rouen

Pourquoi avoir choisi Rouen pour cette journée de retrouvailles entre un Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) qui vient de subir deux années de prison et trois mois d’un morne exil normand, et un Alfred Douglas (1870-1945) impatient de rentrer en grâce] ? [...] L’ombre de Flaubert, que Wilde considéra toujours comme un maître, planait sur la ville. Et s’il ne s’agissait pas là d’une Éducation Sentimentale, c’était à coup sûr un voyage sentimental. [...] On sait [...] que Wilde était très ému et qu’il pleura à la gare en retrouvant son dear boy. Ils logèrent à l’hôtel de la poste et passèrent la journée à se promener dans la ville bras-dessus, bras-dessous, « parfaitement heureux », si l’on en croit Douglas et son autobiographie.

Proche de Dieppe [Wilde vit alors à Berneval-sur-mer, dans les environs de Dieppe, sous un nom d'emprunt : Sebastian Melmoth] et peu éloigné de Paris, Rouen était géographiquement le lieu le mieux situé pour abriter cette [...] rencontre [...]. Car ce sont bien des amoureux qui se retrouvent, bouleversés. Bosie, peut-être un peu moins qu’Oscar. Quelques semaines plus tôt, il lui adressait des lettres suppliantes auxquelles Wilde répondait froidement, puis de moins en moins froidement. Jusqu’à de que ce fût lui qui envoyât quotidiennement des missives et proposât à Bosie, le 24 Août, de le retrouver à Rouen. [...] Bosie, pour sa part, est déjà moins pressé. Sa mère et sa sœur l’attendent à Aix-les-Bains, et Rouen n’est qu’un détour avant de gagner sa véritable destination.

[...] Ce 28 août 1897 [est une] journée particulière, suspendue dans le temps, journée de bonheur éphémère, qui se prolongera peu après par le mirage de Naples, fabuleuse promesse qui grise Oscar [...]. À Rouen, il croit revivre. [...] Sera-t-il de nouveau aimé ? Il rêve, comme rêvait Emma Bovary, quelques jours avant le bal où l’avait invitée Rodolphe. Oscar ne bovaryse pas, il « bosie-rise ». La vie imite l’art, plus que l’art imite la vie.

source : http://www.oscholars.com/RBA/four/Rue_des_Beaux_Arts_4.htm

mercredi 7 novembre 2012

The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson

His business card read: "If you're interested in getting into the movies, I can help you. Henry Willson. Agent." And he could. He steered actresses through Hollywood's career hoops, like Lana Turner, Rhonda Fleming, and Gena Rowlands, but Willson earned his sobriquet of "fairy godfather of Hollywood" through his single-minded focus on newly arrived young hunks on the Sunset Strip, with whispered enticements like, "You could be a star... You're better looking than any movie actor here." Moving closer, to advance the intimacy, he would confide: "You are a star. Now it's up to me to let Hollywood know." What red-blooded college quarterback or figure skater or sailor on leave could resist such a pitch? Willson was for a time one of the most powerful agents in Hollywood. He rechristened handsome, strapping young men, with some preposterously butch moniker. Few exemples ? When he came out of the navy in 1946, Roy Scherer was taken up by talent scout Henry Willson and offered to David Selznick. Selznick saw only a truck-driver hunk with the unlikely new name of Rock Hudson (1925-1985) - a combination of the Rock of Gibraltar and Hudson River.

Arthur Andrew Kelm joined the Coast Guard at the age of fifteen by lying about his age. After his service, the extraordinarily handsome found an agent who "tabbed" him to be an actor, and changed his name to Tab Hunter (b. 1931) when he signed a contract with Warner Brothers Studios. Ex-telephone lineman Robert Moseley became Guy Madison (1922-1996). He was serving his country in the Navy at the time he made his screen debut as an extra, and inspired a journalist to coin the term "beefcake". Born Merle Johnson Jr., Troy Donahue (1936-2001) was initially a journalism student at Columbia University. Willson saw Carmine Orrico 's picture on the cover of a detective magazine and immediately contacted the 16-year-old boy's family in Brooklyn, bringing him to Hollywood and renamed him John Saxon (b. 1936). Francis Durgin (he was born McGown but used the name of his stepfather when his mother remarried) was discovered at a party; christened in Rory Calhoun (1922-1999), he made his first appearance in the film capital as Lana Turner's escort to the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945). Willson even renamed a pair of twins, discovered when they were still children by Loretta Young, Dirk (1941-1967) and Dack Rambo (1941-1994).

Acting ability wasn't required, conventional good looks were a must and willingness to have sex with the ferret-faced Willson. Some of the would-be actors Willson represented were heterosexual, among others Robert Wagner (b. 1930), but a disproportionate number were homosexual, bisexual , or "cooperated" with Willson "to get gigs," in the observation of Natalie Wood's costar Bobby Hyatt... If a young, handsome actor had Henry Willson for an agent, "it was almost assumed he was gay, like it was written across his forehead," recalls Ann Doran, one of Willson's few female clients. The man was the face of a cynical system, supported by an unseen infrastructure of fixers and studio connections who enabled the mythmaking. Manufacturing male pin-ups was part of a fresh marketing opportunity, an attempt to rescue the business by selling to the newly identified youth market, first called "bobbysoxers," then "teentimers," and finally "teenagers."The studios constructed an American mythology that modeled tamed young adult males - the "good boys".

These Adonises were "free, white, and 21," Typically stragglers from the postwar parade of homecoming GIs, the ones who didn't care to return to the farm or the family hardware store. Henry Willson made himself a key player by implementing the business model of agent and career coach, investing thousands in living expenses, cosmetic makeovers, fashion guidance, and acting lessons for his hopeful wannabes. Willson, who made a point of never living with another man, was strict in enforcing the same rule with his clients. He was known to drive past a young actor's house in the dead of night to make sure another man's car wasn't parked out front. Those who disobeyed soon saw their acting roles dry up; Willson didn't want to invest too much effort in a wannabe star who wouldn't play by the rules. Although he regularly took specimens from his stable of pretty boys to clubs and restaurants, he was never seen with less than two at a time. As he saw it "three men always translated as a night out with the boys, two men read as a date."

Rock Hudson was anything but discreet. A source remembers meeting the star at L.A.'s Farmer's Market at 2 a.m., openly cruising for men. "Henry had his standards," said Willson's assistant, "but Rock would sleep with anyone." Hudson seems to have tried to accomplish just that, demanding sexual favors from Willson clients who had landed minor roles in his films, and turning up in search of fresh "talent" for threesomes at Willson's infamously frisky pool parties during the late '50s and early '60s. "Rock's sex drive was enormous." As a result, Willson had his hands full fending off blackmailers and spurned lovers once Hudson became a big name. The "dirty deals" of Hofler's title for the most part all trace back to Rock's high jinks. There are the off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officers whom Willson and his on-retainer private detectives hired to rough up the guy with the photos of Hudson in flagrante delicto and the boyfriend who threatened to go public unless he was allowed to sit next to Hudson at events. Yet another client insists that he heard Willson call in a bunch of favors from the Mob (he'd provided stars for the opening nights of Las Vegas clubs) to get two of Hudson's blackmailers "rubbed out." The granddaddy of tell-all tabloids, Confidential magazine constituted the biggest threat to the dreamboat myth. Although Robert Mitchum's 1949 arrest and jail time for marijuana possession had prophesied the end of his nascent film career, his unflappable public response ("Booze, broads, it's all true... Make up more if you want") actually increased his popularity, but no one was willing to risk revelations of man-on-man activity.

Confidential had a standing offer for dirt on Hudson, and two of the star's ex-lovers had turned down $10,000 offers to tell their stories. It was only a matter of time until the magazine got something juicy on Hudson. With its gaudy yellow, blue, and red covers, Confidential was the scourge of Hollywood. For years the motion-picture industry had controlled the flow of information about the stars by officially accrediting journalists. Confidential challenged all that. Bearing a tantalizing subtitle ("Tells the Facts and Names the Names"), Confidential specialized in Hollywood peccadilloes-in promiscuity, in bad behavior, in miscegenation (at a time when that was considered taboo), and, perhaps above all, in outing homosexual stars decades before there was even such a term as "outing." "Confidential really started a reign of terror," Leo Guild, a press agent at the time, once claimed. Rock Hudson best friend, actor George Nader (1921-2002), confessed that "every month when Confidential came out, our stomachs began to turn. Which of us would be in it?"

At one point Confidential began preparing a story about a wild party at the home of Rock Hudson's agent, Henry Willson-who happened to be gay. Because the piece was going to implicate Hudson as a guest, both the agent and the star went to see Hollywood attorney Jerry Giesler to try to stop it. Giesler said there was nothing he could do until publication. Not long after that, Hudson headed off the story, in part, by marrying Willson's unwitting secretary, Phyllis Gates, though Hudson would tell her that he had quashed it by hiring a gangster and having him threaten Confidential's editor.

But one of the dirtiest deals of Willson's career happened soon after in 1955 : In a bargain move to save Rock Hudson from new predations of Confidential, he exposed Rory Calhoun as a veteran of stints in several federal pens, including maximum security at San Quentin (his background included armed robberies when he was thirteen years old). The disclosure had no negative effect on Calhoun's career and only served to solidify his bad boy image. Confidential revealed that Tab Hunter, whom Willson had never forgiven for firing him and signing on with his archirival (agent Dick Clayton), was arrested when police raided an all-male party in 1950.

As a result of a similar deal, Confidential agreed to ruin George Nader's career by outing his homosexuality. Despite the fact that Nader was forced to sacrifice his career for the sake of Rock Hudson, the two remained great friends and, in fact, Nader's lifelong companion, Mark Miller, was Hudson's private secretary. Such was the bond between the two beefcakes that Nader was mentioned in Hudson's will. In his later years, the fairy godfather lost his footing and slid downhill from a drunk driving arrest to electroshock treatment in a psych ward. He struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism, paranoia, and weight problems. Because his own homosexuality had become public knowledge, many of his clients, both gay and straight (including Robert Wagner), distanced themselves from him for fear of being branded the same. In 1974, the unemployed and destitute agent entered the Motion Picture Country Home as a charity case, where cirrhosis of the liver finally finished him off in 1978. At the funeral, Rory Calhoun served as a pallbearer, but Rock only sent flowers and Tab Hunter skipped the event. He was interred in an unmarked grave, in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery, in North Hollywood.

source : http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/51/dreamboat.htm

samedi 28 juillet 2012

The secret life of Kertbeny

Károly Mária Kertbeny (1824-1882), born as Karl Maria Benkert in Vienna, wrote anonymously two pamphlets calling for legal emancipation of homosexuals entitled "§ 143 of the Prussian penal code of 14 April 1851 and its retention as § 152 in the draft of a penal code for the North German Confederation" and "The general harmfulness of § 143 of the Prussian penal code of 14 April 1851 and its necessary cancellation as § 152 in the draft of a penal code for the North German Confederation". The word Homosexualität [homosexuality] was first openly used in the first pamphlet.

Before Kertbeny's invention, the German jurist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) tried to popularise his own coinage, inspired by Plato's Symposium : the Urning. According to Ulrichs' theory innate impulses driving men to love other men are associated with a certain kind of femininity of the soul, thus men loving other men must belong to a transitional third sex or gender. Ulrichs' starting point was therefore innateness when striving for the emancipation of people with same-sex desire. It is important to note that for Kertbeny - who was in correspondence and was exchanging ideas with Ulrichs for years (certainly between 1864 and 1868) - "to prove the innate nature [of homosexuality] is not at all useful, especially not quickly, what's more it cuts both ways, let it be a very interesting riddle of nature from the anthropological point of view. The legislation does not examine whether this inclination is innate or not, it merely focuses on the personal and social dangers of it, on its relation to society. There are, for example, people who are bloodthirsty, pyromaniac, monomaniacal etc. from birth, but they are not allowed to act out their inclinations, even if these are medically proven ones [...], they are still isolated, and in this way their extremes are isolated from society. Thus we wouldn't win anything by proving innateness. Rather we should convince our opponents that exactly according to their legal notions they do not have anything to do with this inclination, let it be innate or voluntary, because the state does not have the right to intervene in what is happening between two consenting people aged over 14, excluding publicity, not hurting the rights of any third party". (sketch letter from May 1868 written by Kertbeny to most probably Ulrichs).

Considering the secretly cultivated homosexological activities, a question can be posed about Kertbeny which was posed by himself too : "How did I, normally sexed individual, ever stumble onto the existence of homosexualism and its slaves, who, up to that point, I had no idea were present in human society?". Kertebeny himself gave a story that through a blackmailed friend he got into touch with the [homosexual] "sect" and he also referred to his "instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice". However, more detailed investigation of Kertbeny's diaries can provide us with evidence which places the above explanation in another light, revealing at least some parts of his hidden life. In these diaries Kertbeny wrote short notes almost every day, about what time he got up; what the weather was like that day in the given city; how much money he had and to whom he owed money; what he had to leave at the pawnshop; whom he met; where he went; to whom he wrote letters and from whom he received or was waiting for letters; and at the end of the day the time he got home. From the period between 1864 and 1868 we can also find evidence of the regular correspondance between Kertbeny and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. The first of seventeen volumes was written in Brussels, while the last one was written in Budapest in 1881. From the year 1870 there are no notes as he was unable to write in that year because of his illness. Kertbeny preferred to write his personal notes in Brussels in German, and after arriving at the German speaking places he preferred to change the language of his diaries into Hungarian. This differential language use in his diaries could serve the purpose of secrecy.

From the very beginning, notes about his private intimate life including references to his acquaintances with other men are very frequent in the period when Kertbeny was 40 to 45 years of age, before his serious illness in 1870. In connection with this topic - especially from 1865 to 1868 - subsequent patches of self-censoring crossing and blotting out became very frequent, under some of which the original words can still be made out. Kertbeny's references to other men are noteworthy not only because of the amount of blotting out associated with them, but also because they are relatively common, while references to women are very rare. The first of these kind of Hungarian notes can be found in the volume of 1864: "2fr. handsome guy"; "beautiful lad"; or "Hubert, some beautiful boy". At the beginning of 1865 he mentions a man called Hubert several times. For example: "Hubert is not here for three days now"; or "Hubert didn't come again!". There are other references without names, too: "Beautiful boy, but not.."; "with that boy that thing is true"; "I had a look at that beautiful boy". At the end of the year he complains about gonorrhoea: "then horror! The clap again!". In 1866 still in Brussels he refers to a "beautiful Berliner", but the end of the sentence is rendered illegible by crossing out (January 30). In February when Kertbeny is already in German-speaking area, first in Düsseldorf, then in Cologne, the crossed out parts become relatively frequent but there are some readible notes, too: "young barber lad"; "beautiful barber"; "very much in love with the lad... [crossed out]" - and above it visibly: "I have done it"; "the barber would go but I didn't want it". Then he continues: "That clap completely obviously"; "Still that clap"; "At the hairdresser's the boy seduced! What will come of it?"; "Lajos came, we did it. 1 taller"; "Lajos did not come".

From the end of August the crossed out parts are becoming increasingly frequent and - from this time on until the end of the year - almost every day there is reference to a certain János and later to a man called Jancsi, possibly the nickname of the same János : "János is not in a good mood"; "János is here but it doesn't work"; "János showed his..."; "János did it for me". From the middle of October the name Jancsi is not rendered illegible in a lot of places which are otherwise crossed out: "Jancsi did it for me"; "Jancsi did not come, what is the matter? What will come of it? He came only at around 10". During November and December there is mention of Jancsi almost every day: "Jancsi played for me. Great fear that my neighbour, a lieutenant, noticed my morning games"; "Jancsi did it for me"; "Jancsi [unreadable crossing out] It is a very dangerous situation, because you can hear everything from one room to the other." In the first half of 1867 in Cologne Kertbeny refers to several problems in his diaries. In January he keeps mentioning Jancsi's clap almost every day: "[crossing out] horror, yes [crossing out] the poor boy is ill. What will be the end of it?".

However, at the beginning of February another thing starts to worry him a lot: "Awful news! Numa was caught and was forced to do everything. What will come of it?! Great fear!"; "Awful days! [...] Horrible nightmares. I have burnt all the dangerous letters"; "Awful days! Impossible that it wouldn't turn out!". It seems that Kertbeny was very much afraid that in connection to Ulrichs' arrest something would turn out that could affect him, too. From this time on for several months almost every day he mentions how much he is afraid and the unreadible crossed out parts are becoming more and more frequent in his diary. On the 16th of April he complains in the following way: "[unreadable] is lost, and has spoken of me in a bad way! My god, what will come of it? I am devastated" (16 April). The missing name in this note is most probably Ulrichs' as he was arrested the second time in 1867 at around the date of this note. Kertbeny mentions in his diary that Ulrichs was released on the 13th of July after "almost eighty-six days" which makes the 18th of April an estimate for Ulrichs' arrest, though as we will see at the beginning of 1868, Kertbeny gives the 23rd of April as the date of Ulrichs' arrest. April 1867 was also the time when Ulrichs' house in Burgdorf was searched by the police and certain interesting material was found there, including "everything relating to 'Uramsmus ... his correspondence, and a list of Urnings (which included 150 names in Berlin)... [which] were sent to the Ministry of the Exterior in Berlin". At the end of April Kertbeny refers to Ulrichs' arrest : "Numa is caught again. Now I am devastated." (27 April). Three days later there is again a nervous reference most probably to Ulrichs and the result of searching his house: "This mad man brings on me the most horrible danger. All the papers are found" (30 April). The 1868 volume of Kertbeny's diaries starts with a short review of what were probably the most important events of the previous year. Here we can find the following notes: "February 4 - Numa is caught again; [February] 5. - I burnt my writings; [April] 18. - I saw [Jancsi] Groonen last time; [April] 23 - Numa is arested again. I wrote to Numa! ; [April] 27. -Beginning of the horrible days until the 28th of May; May 1. - Most horrible bad time and fear."

On the 1st of May, 1867 Kertbeny describes his situation in a very negative way; "This is probably the most horrible May in my whole life - losing the home country, Mother good reputation, my life, the fruits of twenty years of work. And as an innocent one, only because of his bad crazy one! Awful, awful!". Here it should be noted that "losing [...] Mother" does not mean the mother's death, but it can refer to her illness. Kertbeny's mother died in a year time: on the 7th of May, 1868. According to Kertbeny's notes it was the "most tragic day in my life! This morning my mother died in Vienna in her 68th year." Later in May 1867 he is expecting a letter from Vienna that doesn't want to arrive, and in the meanwhile he keeps worrying: "Awful days! [...] Are they already keeping back my mail? Awful!"; "Horrible days!"; "Nightmarish days". Finally on the 25th he seems to be a bit more relaxed : "Maybe today it will turn out. It turned out! Not! At noon the answer came. It seems that from this great suffering good luck will come out. The writer of the letters is Steinmann, the Prussian royal police chief. Out to him to Hannover. I am going there." Unfortunately, it is not really clear from Kertbeny's notes what exactly worried him so much in connection to Ulrich's arrests and the confiscated "Uranismus - and Urning - files". It is not perfectly clear either why Kertbeny described the month between the end of April and the end of May, 1867 as a horrible, nightmare-like period: perhaps he was being blackmailed or simply afraid of having another case with me police. However, the above detailed notes with references to "dangerous letters", "found papers" and burning of his own writings can reveal Kertbeny's personal involvement in "the Urning matters".

Interestingly, in June, 1867 the diary with its usual style and topics reflects a much more relaxed state of Kertbeny's mind in comparison to the previous months : "Lajos Showed it whole. Beautiful." (8 June); "It doesn't go such... We should take carer (9 June); "Lajko. Kissing." (15 June); "... but the lad didn't want it" (27 July); "Lajko I played." (3 August); "Lajkó did not come!" (11 August); "Lajkó has the clap. What will come of it?" (17 August); "Lajkó. Beautiful." (7 September). It is only in the middle of September when Kertbeny seems to worry again: "... a police soldier was here. What will come of it? Maybe something worrisome!" (17 September) - but after this until December only the regular references to Lajkó go on. In December Kertbeny follows the lawsuit of Friedrich Carl Feldtmann, theater director in Bremen with attention. Feldtmann was already arrested in October "along with three nineteen-year-old men with whom he was alleged to have practiced 'sexual crimes against nature'". One of the three men tried to blackmail him, and finally denounced him to the police. Kertbeny's comments on the case were the following: "Today poor Feldtmann was sentenced, one year in prison, the impertinent bastard got four weeks, the other two could walk free" (20 December); "Today is the horrible day when poor Feldtmann is being sentenced in Bremen, at least for a year! Unless some other lousy trick won't come of it!"(21 December).

Finally here is his last note of the year (this is the full note that can well illustrate Kertbeny's diary writing style): "Sunny morning. I got up at 9. Troubled days again - fearful, what will come of this Bremen courtcase. Lajkó didn't come again! The tailor Heller sent trousers and leibli. 11 1/2 I took a coach to the Roman bath. I was well scrubbed. To hairdresser and barber. At 1 in the Rhéna yard. In the Borsenklub there is nothing yet from Bremen. Home At 7 to the theatre, Rulf as Robert. I didn't really like it... [unreadible]" (22 December). According to the notes of 1868, Kertbeny frequently exchanged letters with "N.N." - i.e. Ulrichs -, to whom his last letter was sent on the 21st of October After this the correspondence seems to be broken off. The last reference to "N.N." can be found among Kertbeny's 1869 notes in connection with the Zastrow case, most probably - i. e. the case of Carl Ernst Wilhelm von Zastrow, painter and former militia lieutenant who 'was arrested and charged with unnatural rape and attempted murder of a five-year-old boy on the 17 of January, 1869 in Berlin. However Kertbeny's notes reflect a somewhat distorted crime story: "I read the horror that was committed on Saturday. The father with his own nine-year-old son." (19 January); "It is a month ago now that that awful crime was committed with his own son" (17 February). A few days later Kertbeny again anounces in his diary that "I burn the papers" (23 January). Finally, at the beginning of February he refers to Ulrichs: "In the paper N.N. is finally brought into this scandal" (6 February).

During 1868 Kertbeny is in frequent correspondence with Hermann Serbe, a publisher in Leipzig with whom Kertbeny wanted to publish his "Sexualitätsstudien", i.e. studies on sexuality. This book has never been published and was probably not even finished. Though Kertbeny's later notes indicate that he was at least entertaining himself with the idea of this work for years: "I was writing The Monosexualism and Homosexualism I." (8 May 1871); "I started to write for the sexual studies" (15 January 1874). It can be also known from a letter of Serbe written to Kertbeny on the 5th of July 1868 that Serbe waited in vain for the following parts, after receiving a certain "historical introduction". It is possible that Kertbeny should have been more motivated financially by Serbe: on the 8th of July, 1868 Kertbeny writes the following angry note: "Nice letter from Serbe! He sends shit, not money! And someone peeped in through the window while L. was here!". Kertbeny also visited Serbe in Leipzig on the 4-5th of August, 1868 but he left with disappointment: "With this impertinent guy nothing can be done!" (5 August).

In 1868 Kertbeny also mentions several times a certain "GJ", most probably the abbriviation of the name of Gustav Jäger (1832-1917), professor of zoology from Stuttgart: "the pamphlet from GJ" (1 April 1868); "... said Something about the pamphlet I wrote for GJ" (7 April); "letter from GJ, very boring commission" (11 April); "No money, no prospect, and this fatal task from GJ" (12 April). Unfortunatelly, it does turn out from the notes what this pamphlet was or what "fatal task" he was commissioned to do by GJ. Later between 1879 and 1882 there was intensive correspondence between Kertbeny and Jäger in connection with the publication of Kertbeny's sexual studies manuscript, which was in parts inserted into Jäger's book, The Discovery of the Soul. According to a letter of Jäger written to Kertbeny on the 28th of August, 1879 the chapter on homosexuality had to be left out from the book because of the publisher's rejection. Still, The Discovery of the Soul includes several parts of Kertbeny's manuscript as "expert opinion of a mysterious Dr. M." In the meanwhile the notes are full of male names. Until the end of July 1868 almost every day there is reference to "L.". Between the beginning of August - when Kertbeny moves to Berlin - and October, "L." is temporarily replaced by a certain "Pali" or "Palkó" (Paul) but afterwards the notes with "Lajkó" are back. At the same time there are also references to other men, for example: "having lunch at the garden of Zenning where the waiter is beautiful but the food is bad"; "to Zenning, to watch the beautiful boy"; "on foot to the swimming pool. There a beautiful Englishman".

On the basis of Kertbeny's private notes it can be assumed that there is a certain level of practical involvement in the background of his theoretical interest in homosexuality. His interest in men seemed to exceed platonic attraction in the line of close bodily contact. Many of the notes written about men were tried to be rendered illegibile: this self-censorship can also indicate that Kertbeny did not want to leave any trace which could expose his close interest in men publicly, but especially not in front of the police. This intention of Kertbeny is understandable in view of the increasing hostility of his social environment: the unification of the German empire in 1871 also meant the introduction of a stricter legal punishment of sexual relationships between men.

In the second half of the 1860s there was regular correspondence between Kertbeny and Karl Henrich Ulrichs, who became famous - and infamous - for his public struggle for the rights of men who love men. When Ulrichs is arrested, Kertbeny becomes very worried: during these "days of horror" he acts like someone who is afraid of exposure. In a letter sketch of 6 May 1868, Kertbeny writes most probably to Ulrichs the following: "Only because of being personally threatened I became obligeded to occupy myself with elementary legal studies as well". It should also be noted that Kertbeny in his non-literary publications often stood up for issues that concerned him personally. For example, he proposed the abolition of passports as well as that of the debtor's prisons as he kept having problems with authorities of many countries because of his debt-management and - the lack of - his passport. Thus we can also assume that in these cases personal involvement made his "instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice" even stronger and more active. Probably we can fit his writings on homosexuality also into this line though he has never published anything in connection with "sexual studies" under his own name. He tried to avoid leaving any public traces about his authorship - a strikingly "modest" attitude of a person who tended to overvalue his own talents, roles and achievements in almost every aspect of his life. Manfred Herzer concluded about Kertbeny that "it appears unlikely that a sexually normal man would write such an unconditional defense of homosexuality at that time, and the assertion of his own sexual normality without giving up the protection of anonymity speaks rather for its personal relevance to him than for a purely disinterested love of justice." However Kertbeny defined himself as sexually normal - by adding that this concept of normality must have included not only the love of justice but also the love of men.

From The Double Life of Kertbeny by Judit Takacs, G. Hekma (ed.) Past and Present of Radical Sexual Politics, UvA – Mosse Foundation, Amsterdam, 2004.

source : http://www.policy.hu/takacs/pdf-lib/TheDoubleLifeOfKertbeny.pdf