On Brokeback Mountain
Meditations about Masculinity, Fear, and Love in the Story and the Film
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About the author
Eric Patterson is associate professor of American Studies and American Literature at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
On Brokeback Mountain: Meditations About Masculinity, Fear, and Love in the Story and the Film provides a close, detailed, comparative discussion of the short story and the film in relation to ways of understanding masculinity and love between men in American culture. It uses analytical ideas from gay and lesbian/queer studies, American studies, social history, film history, and literary history, but avoids specialized theoretical language in order to be accessible to the many people interested in the story and the film. Original, interdisciplinary, and engaging, On Brokeback Mountain is intended to be not only useful to academic specialists but also accessible and readable for any interested, educated reader. The two versions of Brokeback Mountain are significant for taking readers and audiences inside the perspectives of men who love men, showing what physical and emotional passion, and hostility toward that passion, may be like for them. The story and the film help in understanding the many men who love men and who don't fit stereotypes of gay men or participate in the gay/queer worlds of urban/academic communities, especially men in rural areas and in working class contexts. This book examines the presentation of friendship, sex, and love between men in Brokeback Mountain, as well as the depiction of homophobia and its effects on men who love men and their families. It relates the story and the film to the literary tradition of the homoerotic pastoral, the literary/movie tradition of the Western, and the tradition of the tragic romantic love story.
; January 2008
370 pages; ISBN 9781461633969Read online
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Title: On Brokeback Mountain
Author: Eric Patterson
Chapter 1 Introduction. About the Book
Chapter 2 Prologue. March 5, 2006: Reactions to Brokeback Mountain
Chapter 3 Chapter 1. "A Companion Where None Had Been Expected": Friendship
Chapter 4 Chapter 2. " 'Gun's Goin Off' " Sex
Chapter 5 Chapter 3. "The Rushing Cold of the Mountain": Nature
Chapter 6 Chapter 4. " 'We Do That in the Wrong Place We'll Be Dead' ": Hatred and Fear
Chapter 7 Chapter 5. "Separate and Difficult Lives": Love
Chapter 8 Chapter 6. " 'What We Got Now Is Brokeback Mountain. Everything Built on That' ": Memory
Chapter 9 Chapter 7. "The Pair Like Two Skins, One Inside the Other, Two in One": Myths of Love
In the press
When Owen Wister invented the Western in his best-selling 1902 novel, The Virginian, he placed at the heart of the genre the love that "dare not speak its name," with an eastern narrator enamored of a stalwart ex-Virginian. A century later, Brokeback Mountain caused a critical eruption in its frank exploration of the passion that has always been a part of cowboy life. The triumph of Eric Patterson's study of both Proulx's story and Ang Lee's film is to show how fully the narrative of Jack and Ennis is a part of our national romance. In nuanced chapters, Patterson explores a series of related issues—the elegy, histories of homosexuality, Whitman's poetry, romantic love, ranging in the process from Virgil's Eclogues to Kinsey's studies of sexuality—all in an effort to understand at once the triumph of Brokeback Mountain as narrative and its separate stylistic achievements, as well as the torrent of slurs against its basic premise. Patterson is an impassioned reader, though never intemperate, and through a careful accumulation of readings of every aspect of both story and film, makes his case simply, successfully, elegantly, that this is not only a triumph of the genre, but a masterpiece in its own right.