Not until recently has gay American literature become a "genre" in its own right, nor has there been a full-length critical survey of it in its entire range - fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry. "Gaiety Transfigured" makes distinguished contributions on both these fronts, helping to identify and define the corpus of gay writing in America and bringing to it its first theoretically-informed critical appreciation. David Bergman opens with two chapters that define the experience of being homosexual - the feelings of otherness and ostracism on the one hand, but of equality and erotic authenticity on the other. These chapters provide a sensitive and insightful passage into the exploration (and "transfiguration") of those feelings by such famous American writers as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Tennessee Williams, and F. O. Matthiessen, "and" by forgotten or unknown names like Francis Grierson and Tobias Scheebaum. But Bergman is not content to confine himself merely to the literary high ground, and he yanks the reader back to the grim contemporary of AIDS in a chapter on Larry Kramer. By looking at the entire range of literary activity, "Gaiety Transfigured" shows how these individual gay men imagined a new place for themselves in American culture, and how they negotiated the chasm between themselves and the rest of society. This "new" place, Bergman argues, is often based on a fertile (sometimes fanciful) reconstruction of their prehistoric and pagan past: black gay writers returning, for instance, to a precolonial image of Africa (Alain Locke, Countee Cullen), some whites to a classical Greek pattern (John Addington Symonds, Havelock Ellis, Edwawrd Carpenter), and others still to native American models (Francis Grierson and David Plante). Self-representation (with emphasis of the "self"), Bergman concludes, is both the journey and the destination of these artists: "By such transformations, gay writers are proving to themselves and to the culture around them that they will no longer passively accept the dominant culture's representations, but actively develop their own."