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What does it mean for the contemporary gay male writer when Henry James is made available as a gay precursor, a literary father, a model for emulation, appropriation, or something else? The versions of gay writing James has enabled take a complex and historically differentiated variety of forms. My project here is to consider two works by contemporary gay male writers who draw on James to write about a watershed decade in gay life, the 1980s. Although these two works—David Leavitt's A Place I've Never Been (1990) and Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (2004)—paint very different portraits of the decade in question, their common reliance on James and their common attention to specificities of gay life argue for a utility in placing their works in conjunction.