[Henry Gauthier-Villars]. WILLY. Le 3e Sexe.

(Paris): Paris-Édition, 1927.  First edition.  Octavo. 467 pages, plus 20 pages of advertisements.  The ‘gay Baedeker,’ to post-WWI queerdom.  The volume takes us by the hand into the world of the homosexual of 1920’s mainland Europe and in doing so is by turns leering, sympathetic, philosophical, patronizing, exuberant, impenetrable, tender and hilarious, often all on the same page, as it provides a fascinating glimpse, not so much of exotic homosexual practices but of something much more delicate and transitory: the moment just before homosexuality became an identity, before sexual acts had been organized into the solid categories that we recognize today. It’s not about the love that dared not speak its name; it’s about the love that didn’t quite know what its name was yet. A delightful read that also provides us with valuable information–legal, scientific, pseudo-scientific, anecdotal–toward a more complete assessment of homosexuality in the 1920s.  A very good copy in strikingly illustrated wrappers.


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