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J. A. Symonds, socialism and the crisis of sexuality in fin-de-siècle Britain

Tyler, Colin



This article analyses the theory of sexuality, personality and politics developed by the literary critic John Addington Symonds (1840-93). Sections one and two introduce Symonds’ changing reputation as a modernist theorist of ‘sexual inversion’ (homosexuality). Section three examines his conceptualisation of the processes whereby an individual can sublimate sexual urges to create a harmonious and unalienated personality which acknowledges the need to combine transgressive self-expression with social convention. Section four demonstrates how this theory led Symonds to endorse an eroticised form of democratic socialism, while section five explores the culmination of Symonds’ thought in a form of pantheistic idealism. This research is significant in that it extends our understanding of socialism and sexuality into areas that are marginalised and yet historically important.


Tyler, C. (2017). J. A. Symonds, socialism and the crisis of sexuality in fin-de-siècle Britain. History of European ideas, 43(8), 1002-1015.

Acceptance Date Jan 16, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2017
Publication Date Nov 17, 2017
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2017
Journal History of European ideas
Print ISSN 0191-6599
Electronic ISSN 1873-541X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 8
Pages 1002-1015
Keywords Socialism; Idealism; Identity politics; Pantheism; Queer politics; Symonds, John Addington, 1840-1893
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in History of European ideas, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.


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