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Arnold Aletrino
(April 1, 1858 - January 16, 1916) Holland

Arnold Aletrino

Doctor and author


Arnold AletrinoAletrino belonged to the second generation of the literary bent of the 1880s that brought modern literature to The Netherlands. He wrote some very sombre novels on the life of hospital nurses. He also specialized in criminal anthropology and wrote his first essay on "uranism" in 1897.

Aletrino was the first Dutch figure of some repute to defend the naturalness of homosexual desire, shifting his position from the stance of Raffalovich - that gay men can be as masculine as straight men - to the position of Hirschfeld - that they are a third sex.

The Calvinist Dutch prime minister raged against the University of Amsterdam where Aletrino, he claimed, would teach the "sin of Sodom". When Aletrino's friend Jacob Israël De Haan published the first gay novel, dedicated to him and having him as a leading character, Aletrino was not amused at all and bought all available copies to save his reputation.

Aletrino was married twice and laboured under severe addiction to morphine. There is reason to assume that his portrait by De Haan as bisexual and slightly sadist was not far from truth.


Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, Routledge, London, 2001

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