The Love that is Called Friendship and the Rise of Sexual Identity
This essay tracks the increasing desexualization of the category of “friend” in German culture from the eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Whereas eighteenth-century depictions of friendship were full of sexual ambiguity that was noted at the time, nineteenth-century depictions of friendship were clearly distinguished between same-sex erotic relations. The essay concludes, “contrary to the assumptions of many modern critics, then, who argue that modern readers confuse friendship and love, thereby projecting too much eroticism into eighteenth-century friendships, friendship in the eighteenth century was far more erotic than modern friendship.”
“The Love that is Called Friendship and the Rise of Sexual Identity,” in Literary Paternity, Literary Friendship: Essays in Honor of Stanley Corngold (=the University of North Carolina Studies in the Germanic Languages and Literatures, no. 125), ed. Gerhard Richter (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002) 175-197.