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Herman Joachim Bang
(April 20, 1857 - January 29, 1912) Denmark

Herman Bang

Novelist, journalist, theatre director

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Herman BangAfter graduating from high school in 1875, Bang moved to Copenhagen. His early novel Haabløse Slægter (A Generation Without Hope, 1880), was bannedby the Supreme Court as immoral. At the same time, as a very young man, Bang developed a persona of a decadent dandy whose homsexuality was strongly implied and widely known or suspected. His novel Mikaël (1904) is viewed as his most explicit representation of homosexuality.

Bang's position as an exemplary homosexual made him vulnerable to slander. In order to escape from this nerve-racking lifestyle he spent long periods as a quasi-exile in the Danish provinces, and in France and Germany. However also outside of Denmark Bang was persecuted and defamed as a sexual pervert in anonymous letters "from home".

Nowhere in Bang's novels is homosexualitu explicitly represented. Still, it is possible to read his work as a continuous endeavour to express, implicitly, the homosexual's terms of existence by the fin de siècle at the transition from pre-modernity to modernity.

Herman BangLate in life, he collaborated with his German doctor, Max Wasbutzki, on a factual essay on homosexuality, Gedanken zum Sexualitätsproblem (Thoughts on the Problem of Sexuality) which was published posthumously in 1922. From the priviledged position of a homosexual artist and aristocrat he described and interpreted homosexuality as a social and scientific problem.

The one love affair in Bang's life was with the german actor Max Eisfeld (Appel), whom he met in Berlin in 1885. Their relationship lasted for a little more than a year.

Although Bang died a natural death from exhaustion, on a train near Ogden, Utah, while on a lecture tour in the US, the public and some of his aquaintances believed that he had committed sucide, the only natural death for a homosexual...

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

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