Jan 9, 2016
The Iceland Fisherman: Gay Romance in Collier's Encyclopedia
Why was a Frenchman writing about Iceland, I wondered. Because of the Northern Thing, the Viking ships and horned helmets and "Baldur the Beautiful"? Because it was a place of wild freedom, where men could hug, kiss, and marry?
No professor mentioned it because it was a symbolist novel, no longer in style. And gay-themed.
A group of Breton fishermen sail to Iceland each summer in search of cod. Sylvestre, "a girlish boy," befrieds the big, muscular Yann, who disapproves of women and says he'll "marry the sea."
Back in France, Sylvestre courts women, in darkness, "dreaming of death," but in the summer he goes out to sea again, and leans against Yann, and they go on "gaily with their fishing in the everlasting daylight."
The novel is famous in France. Pecheur d'Islande has been filmed several times, notably in 1959 (with Jean-Claude Pascal, left, and Georges Poujouly) and in 1996 (with Antony Delon, top photo, and Marius Colucci). The film versions apparently emphasize The Girl.
Turkey and the Middle East. He filled his home with mementos of his journeys, including many paintings of semi-nude men, such as these Easter Islanders, as well as semi-nude photos of his own muscular physique (most destroyed after his death).