An Affinity for the Lumpen: Depictions of Homelessness in Delany’s Bread & Wine and The Mad Man
Abstract

Abstract:

Bread & Wine and The Mad Man’s depictions of homeless men as desirable, the texts’ analyses of class as central to human desires, and their affirmation of the unsettling effects of interclass contact contradict social realist and romanticizing literary representations of homelessness and form an important intervention into the political and literary discourse on the lumpenproletariat. Both texts show sexual relations between homeless men and academics. From the excitement of first getting to know each other to the everyday process of building a lasting relationship, these men eroticize the class differences usually experienced as unsettling, and go to astonishing lengths in presenting as a blueprint for social change one of the character’s central insight: The more different a person is from me, the more I’ll learn from them.