Closet Writing/Gay Reading
The Case of Melville's Pierre
In Closet Writing/Gay Reading, Creech shows how a literary critic can be receptive to implicit and closeted sexual content. Forcefully advocating a tactic of identification and projection in literary analysis, he lends renewed currency to the kind of "sentimental" response to literature that continental theory—particularly deconstruction—has sought to discredit.
In the second half of his book, Creech sets out to analyze what he considers the exemplary novel of the nineteenth-century closet, Melville's Pierre, or: The Ambiguities. By approaching Pierre as the gay man Melville longed to have as its reader, Creech is able to decipher the novel's "encrypted erotics" and to reveal that Melville's apparent tale of incest is actually a homosexual novel in disguise. The closeted "address" to queer-sensitive readers that Pierre disseminates finally receives a critical reading that strives to be explicit, shareable, and public.