Mike Kitay

Dedicated to debauchery: the life of Thom Gunn

In 1876, writing to his friend Gertrude Tennant, Gustave Flaubert set down a principle that artists and writers should live by: Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres. (Be regular in your life and ordinary as a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your work.) The life of the English poet Thom Gunn had its disciplined aspect (he managed to hold down a job at least), but, overall, it was so dedicated to debauchery and excess that it’sa wonder it lasted as long as it did. The story, told in detail by Michael Nott, makes even