Book - The Persian Boy

Posted on October 6, 2013 at 2:05 AM

I didn’t identify fully as gay until I was a freshman in college. I had been passionately in love with guys, but the overt sexual attraction was slow to develop. At that time there was no internet, and television had no gay characters, and so it was easy to feel confused about who I was. And then I read the book “The Persian Boy” by Mary Renault. I somehow came upon it in the stacks of the campus library where I worked. I started reading, and kept coming back for a couple of days until I had read the whole thing, at a desk in the far corner of the cramped stacks.


The book is both an historical novel about Alexander the Great, and a love story between Alexander and Bagoas, the Persian boy. It was published way back in 1972 so the sexual scenes are not explicit, but I found them somehow steamy anyway. It’s like what they say about the best horror movies, where unseen violence, the violence you create in your mind, is more effective than explicit violence. But for me the most important thing was the emotional passion, which mirrored what I had been feeling, but not fully understanding.


The book is extraordinarily well written (though some have said it moves slowly), and worked for me as interesting history in addition to the love story. As a measure of its effectiveness, I cried like a baby, right there in the stacks, as the book came to a close.   -   Dennis Stone

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