The Lingering Clasp of the Hand HTML version
the Victorians' sense of disapprobation and dislike of collaborating in what purported to
be a modern period are not completely substantiated.
The sense of a domesticated family life where fathers began to take on far more of the
roles of parenting than before has been well charted,6 Men were drawn to domestic
chores in what was an increasingly domesticated Victorian age, pointing to the need for
adventure romances. William Cobbett is reported to have taken an interest in men
nursing their children in infancy.7 Authors reacted against these restrictions and engaged
in literary work togeth er, alone. W hat is evident is that, once writers turned to
collaboration — in terms of helping one another with writing — not just for commercial
reasons, they took part in it with great alacrity and with panache. Indeed, collaboration as
a theme in the textual material is common amongst writers working singly, also
indicating that there was a late-Victorian interest in male collaboration and homosocial
desire in what was certainly a restrictive and hypocritical environment.
In a Victorian age of changing perceptions of gender roles, men took part in
collaboration and male bonding to produce masculine adventure stories in the rewritten
form of the romance genre.8 That they did so stemmed from the suppressions and
hypocrisy of the period which caused them to feel a need for robust, manful literature.
Lang, it is fair to say, perceived the domestic as an unnatural role for men, and that which
he postulates in the romance, apart from the recording of a cultural dawn, 9 is the
unimprisoning through epic of the imaginations and possibilities of men.
Certain of the writers of the period contributed to a homoerotic genre whic h was a
reshaping of an established pattern which was not new but was, rather, an old form,
which Kipling and others varied to suit their purposes by a process of re -invention. They
took part collaboratively in a 'heated' form of writing predicated upon notions of romance
derived largely from Scott. In this cultural ideal "King Romance" could be rejuvenated in