The best-selling author of Vagina, Give Me Liberty, and The End of America illuminates a buried story of gay history—how a single English law in 1857 led to a maelstrom, with reverberations lasting down to our day.
Wolf’s unravelling and reconstructing of these ‘sodomitical’ poems provides one of the most fascinating elements of her wide-ranging book ... Throughout the book, she instances cases in which ordinary working people were given savage sentences after being convicted of sodomy or even ‘attempted sodomy' ... Imaginatively researched, entertainingly written and enjoyably indignant, Outrages is a sobering and timely book.
Naomi Wolf’s long, ludicrous career has followed a simple formula. She audits herself for some speck of dissatisfaction, arrives at an epiphany—one that might contravene any number of natural laws—and then extrapolates a set of rules and recommendations for all women ... Always the books are lit by a strange messianic energy, shored up by dubious data ... What Wolf regarded as evidence [in Outrages] of executions—the notation of 'death recorded' on court records—indicated, in fact, the opposite, that the judge had recommended a pardon from the death sentence ... The mistakes matter because this book takes as one of its great subjects our duties as stewards of history, of the care and preservation of texts ... They matter because although there are stretches of the book that I enjoyed—there is a hint of A. S. Byatt’s Possession as Wolf plays literary detective in the archives, puzzling over Symonds’s codes and concealments—I don’t trust it. My woman’s brain...can’t quite overlook Wolf’s distinguished career of playing loose with facts and the historical record.
This book harnesses the electric power of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, the righteous energy of first-wave feminism and the terror of criminalized identities, in a style accessible to general readers. As the fight for LGBTQ rights continues, this book is as relevant as it is compelling ... Wolf's style is easy to read, and her research is authoritative: this book is in part adapted from more academic work on the subject, and some of the most captivating scenes involve primary sources in the archives. Outrages is not only an important history with lessons for the present, but also an engagingly told story. The instructive life of Symonds is for any reader who cares about history, civil rights or the power of poetry.