The Novels of Denton Welch

by | Jan 22, 2019 | Queer Syllabus

The Queer Syllabus is a joint project from The Rumpus and Foglifter Press that allows writers to nominate works for a new canon of queer literature. When we identify our roots, when we point to the work that shaped us as writers and as people, we demonstrate that our stories are timeless, essential, and important—and so are we. The Queer Syllabus is edited by Wesley O. Cohen and Marisa Siegel.

 

My proposal for the Queer Syllabus actually involves three novels, which together constitute a unique autobiographical trilogy: Denton Welch’s Maiden Voyage (1943), In Youth is Pleasure (1945), and A Voice Through a Cloud (1950).  Although Welch (1915–1948) died young, his personally courageous and stylistically daring fiction established itself as a kind of idiosyncratic landmark within the queer canon. 

 

Writers such as E.M. Forster, W.H. Auden, John Updike, William Burroughs, John Waters, and Edmund White have singled him out for praise, and his work, though not always easy to find, continues to attract new readers. Welch studied painting, and his fiction demonstrates an eye for vivid detail; his novels abound with memorable passages of startling modernity. They also contain erotic confessions which, while tame for modern readers, were nonetheless bold confessions in Welch’s time.

 

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