Paths of wrath and reconciliation: homophobia, Japan and the life-work of Harold Stewart

Ackland, Michael (2007) Paths of wrath and reconciliation: homophobia, Japan and the life-work of Harold Stewart. In: Ackland, Michael, and Oliver, Pam, (eds.) Unexpected Encounters: neglected histories behind the Australia-Japan relationship. Monash University Press, Melbourne, VIC, pp. 89-111.

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[Extract] 'Some day we must write the history of our own obscurity' (Barthes 1968:4), remarked Roland Barthes, high priest of semiotics and one of a legion of famous homosexuals mown down by the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, which also carried away close friends of Harold Stewart. But Stewart (1916-95), unlike Barthes, never contemplated such self-exposure, and he would have recoiled from the Frenchman's related proposition of at last making 'manifest the density of our narcissism' (Barthes 1968:4). Yet both notions must be central to any endeavour to make sense of Stewart's life. For his was an existence steeped in obscurity and, despite his later embrace of Buddhism, profoundly narcissistic. From at least his late adolescence onwards, he felt an outcast from mainstream Australian society. Then, as a student at Sydney's elite Fort Street High School, he discovered his homosexuality and received stinging rebuffs. In 1934 he responded to his betrayer, 'RM', with rare directness:

How, now have you slipped back, and away from me, with your littleness and your no other ambitions than to live, work and to marry, enjoy, breed and to die where to me these seem such little hills. I am sick with your petty insignificance (Stewart 1934:32).

Item ID: 10886
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-876924-50-8
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Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2010 05:45
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200502 Australian Literature (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Literature) @ 80%
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