Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Story of a Life: For the Consideration of the Medical Fraternity by Claude Hartland

The Story of a Life: For the Consideration of the Medical Fraternity by Claude Hartland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting enough short book I managed to read in a couple of hours.
I had never heard of this book before and was surprised, the first American account of an avowed homosexual from 1901? I don't know of another account before this one from any place and so was anxious to read it. Now that I have, I understand why it isn't more popular.
While I enjoyed reading of the time period and occasionally placing myself in the situation of the author, it was hard to relate. The author was SO emotional, he cries and weeps on nearly every page. Some of this may be a figure of speech but I don't think so.
Due to the time it was written the author rarely speaks plainly about sex and sometimes the undertones are too subtle for me to tell if anything happened. Much of the book is lamenting his condition, worrying it will spread, effecting others, etc. He refers to masturbating as self-abuse and says he tried to do it not often enough to cause permanent harm, limiting himself to a few times a week and eventually making a pact with God to never do it again. This pact is then broken with much torment and tears and weeping. It's just hard to relate.
The book is presented to the medical establishment in hopes of finding a cure. The book ends with the author at age 30 so hopefully he found some comfort.
A couple things surprised, the number of times grown men shared beds surprised. Why was a teacher invited to stay over at his 16 year old pupil's house and share his bed? Also people seemed to die a lot. They'd look pale, and next thing they'd be dead.
Overall worthwhile as a glimpse at history but not a book to hang the hat on.

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