Dollimore, Jonathan. “Desire: A Memoir”, (Beyond Criticism), Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.
Autobiography and Meditation
Jonathan Dollimore has held professorships at the universities of Sussex and York and lectured and taught throughout the world. He was co-founder (with Alan Sinfield) of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence at the University of Sussex. For more than thirty years Jonathan Dollimore has been one of contemporary culture’s most influential critics of politics, literature, and sexuality. In “Desire”, Dollimore shares the existential sources of his inspiration and explores the challenge of passion, of gay sex and suicidal depression. It is brutally honest and raw giving the reader a great deal to think about. He reflects on his own “compulsive experience of gay culture” with both candor and refinement. He gives us “a meditation about the desire for sex and oblivion and its complex relation to loss, depression, and suicide” in which he tests ideas against experience, and shows that disasters can be liberating. Jonathan Dollimore is here charming, astute and quite funny. His story is sensitive, haunting and at times heartbreaking. His story is also the story of the times in which he has lived and he shares what the nature of desire is to him. His life has been one of “a brilliant teacher, writer, radical intellectual adventurer, who for many was a role model on how to think and do our work differently”. The prose is powerful and filled with beauty in this book that can and will be read again and again.