Queer histories and postcolonial intimacies in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty
in End of empire and the English novel since 1945
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Nostalgia in The Line of Beauty is alternately 'vicious', on the one hand, suggesting an immersion in sensual delight against one's better instincts, and 'acute', on the other, implying painful self-scrutiny. Since the 1980s queer writers and directors, such as Jeanette Winterson, Jackie Kay, Derek Jarman and Isaac Julien, have been reworking 'heritage' topics and forms in ways that harness them to social critique. In tune with current work on orientations, migration and home at the intersection of queer and postcolonial theory, Alan Hollinghurst's novel anticipates queer claims on social and national belonging. The queer domesticities and intimacies can play the familial/familiarising logic of heritage against itself. By putting Rebecca Walkowitz's emphasis on the aesthetic legacies of decadent style for cosmopolitanism into dialogue with Sara Ahmed's queer phenomenological work on lineages and trajectories, it is possible to rethink how we might employ the idea of cosmopolitanism.


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