Thursday, July 7, 2011

"tiny alice"

—nothing in Wayne Dyne's Homolexis. I tried to consult Bruce Rodgers' The Queen's Vernacular but my copy, in some fit of tidiness, seems to have been deaccessioned. The earliest reference I have found to a special meaning of "tiny alice" is in Morris Belsnick's letter of April 8, 1965, to The New York Review of Books, which begins

Philip Roth is correct about the underlying intentions of Tiny Alice, but why does he write as though it were a dirty little secret which Albee cannot face? The very title of the play itself is, within homosexual circles, a phrase for a masculine derrière.

Belsnick's letter is in response to Philip Roth's embarrassing review, "The Play that Dare Not Speak Its Name," published in the February 8, 1954 issue.

The disaster of the play, however—its tediousness, its pretentiousness, its galling sophistication, its gratuitous and easy symbolizing, its ghastly pansy rhetoric and repartee—all of this can be traced to his own unwillingness or inability to put its real subject at the center of the action.

… which is of course homosexuality. A whole book, I am coming to believe, can be written about Homophobia v. Edward Albee, a substantial chapter of which would be centered on Tiny Alice. It's hard for people who didn't live through it to appreciate what a time of fearful orthodoxy the Fifties and Sixties were. People—readers, playgoers, moviegoers, critics, columnists etc—went crazy if they were presented with an experience without clear meaning. Behind much of that anxiety of intention lay the love that dare not speak its name, which is to say, the love that people dared not hear.

By the way, if you consult on "tiny alice" you will see that a thumbs up has been added to the previously reported three thumbs down. Pile on and vote! I've decided this one's a keeper. The biggest laugh in the gay male porn industry is how tops go on about loving a "tight ass" even though it's clear from their performance that many of them would benefit from an anus that's rather looser.


DCSteve1441 said...

Thanks for yet another eloquent, erudite posting, Tim.

I used to be a big fan of Philip Roth for reasons that elude memory now (I haven't read anything he's produced in at least 20 years), but would have jumped off the bandwagon much sooner had I only known he'd spewed such venom (and never recanted it, I'm guessing?). Even allowing for the rampant gay-baiting of the Fifties, I have a really hard time respecting someone capable of such viciousness.

On a brighter note, I absolutely cackled when I got to your closing observation. Truly wonderful!

Terry said...

Amusing discussion. I looked up
"alice" in Partridge's Slang and found this entry: "from 'Alice, where art thou?' because hard to find." And this under "tiny", slang for anything big.

Tim said...

so a "tiny alice" is anything big that's hard too find … like the infamous eleven-inch white cock ;-)

Tim said...

phew! — not even my fits of deaccesioning could be so wanton! … have recovered Bruce Rodgers, pushed into hiding at the back of a shelf … nothing about "tiny alice"