Object of the Month: February 2020

1 February 2020

In recognition of LGBT+ History Month, our Object of the Month is a second edition copy of The Temple, by the poet, novelist and essayist Stephen Spender (1909-1995). Widely considered to be semi-autobiographical, the novel was written after Spender spent his summer holiday in Germany in 1929 and recounts his relationships with renowned literary figures W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood.

The narrative follows the central character, Paul, who is encouraged to visit Germany to experience the liberal attitudes towards sex and naturism. The novel recalls his encounters with the bronzed young Germans he meets and with whom he explores friendships, parties and his sexuality, while facing the perceptible changes in tension under the rise of the Nazi party.

Spender finished writing the novel in the early 1930s however, because of its frank depictions of homosexuality, it wasn’t published until 1988. A novel of both historical and literary significance that reflects the social and political turbulence of its time, The Temple articulates the curiosity, energy and awakening of a young man making his way in the world.

Stephen Spender (1909-1995), The Temple, written in 1929 and published 1988 (Grove Pr)