Against Queer Presentism | How the Book World Neglects the Archive

Colton Valentine

History is a nightmare from which the queers have awoken. Or so it would seem in Elif Batuman’s Either/Or (2022). It’s sophomore year at Harvard, and protagonist Selin is debating the merits of living either aesthetically or ethically. As in The Idiot (2017), she takes classes and reads; unlike in The Idiot, she drinks and has sex. Everywhere, queerness simmers. Selin’s university syllabi are populated by fictional male seducers, her...

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