A Very Queer Family Indeed: Sex, Religion, and the Bensons by Simon Goldhill

By Simon Goldhill

“We can commence with a kiss, although this can now not become a love tale, not less than no longer a love tale of whatever just like the ordinary kind.”

So starts off A Very Queer relatives Indeed, which introduces us to the intense Benson relatives. Edward White Benson turned Archbishop of Canterbury on the peak of Queen Victoria’s reign, whereas his spouse, Mary, used to be popular for her wit and charm—the leading minister as soon as questioned no matter if she used to be “the cleverest girl in England or in Europe.” The couple’s six precocious kids incorporated E. F. Benson, celebrated writer of the Mapp and Lucia novels, and Margaret Benson, the 1st released girl Egyptologist.

What pursuits Simon Goldhill so much, besides the fact that, is what went on behind the curtain, which was once much more strange than a person may perhaps think. Inveterate writers, the Benson kin spun out novels, essays, and millions of letters that open lovely new perspectives—including what it might probably suggest for an grownup to kiss and suggest marriage to a twelve-year-old lady, how faith in a relatives might aid or smash relationships, or how the loss of life of a kid may be celebrated. No different family members has left such special documents approximately their so much intimate moments, and in those amazing bills, we see how kinfolk existence and a family’s knowing of itself took form in the course of a time while psychoanalysis, medical and old demanding situations to faith, and new methods of brooding about society have been constructing. this is often the tale of the Bensons, however it is additionally greater than that—it is the tale of ways society transitioned from the excessive Victorian interval into modernity.

 

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