The Irish Pasha

By Louise Foxcroft

The astonishing private and public lives of a maverick Edwardian Egyptologist

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Literary Review

A welcome review by Piers Brendon. 

I'd take issue with the idea that ‘some kind of censorship apparently prevented’ my detailing the ‘precise nature of [G-A’s] paedophilia’. In fact there are no explicit details to be had; if there were I would not have shied away from including them. Gayer-Anderson wrote lyrically about the beauty of boys and young men but was quite silent on his actual sex life.

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Amro Gebreel
 Amro Gebreel says:

Do you think, like many in that era, it was mainly talk and no action? So many were very sexually naïve then.

posted 8th February 2017

Nick Baker
 Nick Baker says:

In response to Amro Gebrel - I do not think (but, nor can I be sure) that it was 'mainly all talk and no action'. However, I do not believe that 'many' (or GA) were that sexually naive - that’s a bit of a myth surrounding many in the Victorian/Edwardian period – I’m not suggesting that they were quite as ‘liberated’, as today, but naïve, no.

The problems I think may have been many; as we know homosexually was illegal and the punishment and stigma of such a ‘crime’ was immense – and now add to that, even in that period, the suggestion that somebody (and of a certain status) was a paedophile. Today, thankfully most of us do not get homosexuality and paedophilia mixed up – but there may lay the problem of those in that period – age wasn’t a barrier and the pursuit of ‘beauty’ was often youth?

As stated in this excellent book, so many leading figures of this period such as TE Lawrence, Kitchener, Baden-Powell, Montgomery et al all appeared to be 'mainly all talk and no action' – and avoided any discussion about their sex life. Most of them preferred to ‘live (or die) abroad’ were views on such matters were slightly more relaxed and the pursuit of ‘beauty’ easier – even today we have the surge of the sex tourist prowling in far flung places. Of course there is a debate to be had about these men’s understanding of love, sex and romance and the boundaries they experience in terms of their homosexuality, but the fascination with ‘youth’ is another matter (another book Louise?)

The book does make slightly difficult reading in the 21st Century, but I do think it’s a bit too easy to fall into a romantic mind-set that such men were highly educated, brave adventures, who just fell in love with young boys and well if the likes of Alexander, Hadrian an co did it, that makes it ok. Yes, there is much to admire, but there’s equally much to question.

posted 8th February 2017

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