[Milton-L] Queering Milton

Horace Jeffery Hodges jefferyhodges at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 27 16:18:09 EST 2010

I have never checked the etymology, but I've long wondered if "queer" isn't related to the German "quer," which means "askew" and might explain the opposite use of "straight" in English for the non-gay.

Jeffery Hodges

From: Carol Barton <cbartonphd1 at verizon.net>
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Sent: Thu, January 28, 2010 2:48:28 AM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Queering Milton

John, I don't know where I first heard it, but the expression "queering the deal" is fairly common. The usage is essentially the same--something on the order of "screwing it up."

Best to all, 

Carol Barton, Ph.D.

Sometimes, exhausted
with toil and endeavour,
I wish I could sleep
for ever and ever;
but then this reflection
my longing allays: 
I shall be doing it
one of these days. 
---Piet Hein, poet and scientist (1905-1996)--- 

Jan 27, 2010 11:14:33 AM, milton-l at lists.richmond.edu wrote:

>>The astronomer Harlow Shapley, interviewed on June 8, 1966 by Charles Weiner and Helen Wright, admitted to enjoying poety and liking Tennyson, but when asked by Wright, "How about Milton?", replied:
>>"Milton's tedious. And also I had to study him in some school. That always queers a poet."
>Interesting use there of the verb "queers."  I checked the OED and found the definition "spoil" (which is presumably the only sense Shapley intended).   These days "queers a poet" would have very different connotations, including (and especially) "in some school".  Queer, how words and institutions change.

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