“Disraeli the Romantic”


*from notes coalesced from Twitter*

This is a really good program about Disraeli, romance and romanticism, but I have some issues with it. (The link may die soon as well: it’s “Disraeli the Romantic” by Daisy Hay from Exeter University)

The lecture wants to draw lines between performance and authenticity, which is impossible with Disraeli and ignores how susceptible he was to his own bullshit. See, in the exquisite Blake biography, the section on the family history he wrote. Though evocative-Blake is also a bit imperfect on the way Disraeli blurs image-creation, spin, story-telling, self-delusion, mis-remembrances, lies, ignorance, brilliance and carelessness. The lecture almost has to be reductionist due to its short length, but it also TOTALLY cuts the probability that Disraeli was queer. And that sacrifice of nuance really impoverishes a lecture about his marriage and the political impact of his public Feels. I think this WAS a rich romance and a real partnership–but one party involved in it also probably wasn’t heterosexual? It’s difficult to map the terms by which we currently understand sexuality onto the past and vice versa, but this is hardly exclusively *my* understanding–a lot of scholars have carefully done the work of positioning categories and come to a similar determination.


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