Cover Image: 300,000 Kisses

300,000 Kisses

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book.

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I think I would have enjoyed this book more when I was a teenager. It isn’t bad but I feel like I wanted more, especially about sapphic love. I’m not sure how I feel about some of the more modern translations but I think that’s one of the reasons why I’d have liked it more when I was younger. It’s also hard to apply our concept of queerness to the past because it was completely different. Some of the selections were so short, I feel like I wanted more context around them. I know that’s not what they were trying to do with this book but I guess I wanted something else. The art was lovely but I think I would have preferred something more realistic. I didn’t feel like the art really added much for me personally.

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DNF. I found the concept compelling, but the execution felt derivative if not boring for someone who has read most of the texts included already.

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An absolutely beautiful book. As to the words on the page: Hewitt's translations breathe contemporary life into the Greco-Roman stories of queer persons. My only quibble was that I wish there was a bit more scene-setting for the historical context of the stories, which range across the centuries and across societies. However, I understand the tension of needing to engage the reader and not be a history book.

As to the art and design: Hall's works make this book a coffee table piece in all but dimensions. Absolutely stunning. I wish there were prints available for purchase. Hall's colors and whimsy become the treat the reader looks for at every turn of the page. By the end of the book, Hall presents so many beautiful scenes and studies that are worth framing.

Overall, a great book worth reading and savoring.

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An excellent introduction to queer writings from Ancient Greece and Rome. Seán Hewitt's selections showcase a variety of perspectives and his introductions provide good context for the works; his translations are serviceable, although he did tone down Catullus 16.

Luke Edward Hall's illustrations aren't really to my taste, but he does a good job of capturing the feelings of the selections.

3.5 stars, rounded up.

Recevied via NetGalley.

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One thing that I did really like about this book was the wide range of myths and sources that it drew from. There were many stories here that I'd never heard before.

I liked that each chapter included the original text(s), but I think there needed to be more commentary from the author... At its best, this commentary provides effective historical and cultural context, and Hewitt does a good job of explaining these stories in modern terms. However, this commentary is usually so sparse that it sometimes feels like this is just a collection of myths that are forced to speak for themselves. This is especially prevalent in the later chapters, which often feature just 2 or 3 sentences of context/commentary. A few of the myths/poems included are likewise just 1 or 2 sentences long.

My main qualm with this book was the choice of stories. Some choices were just very strange. For example, Alexander the Great & Bagoas are included, but not Alexander & Hephaestion, who had a far deeper and long-lasting relationship.

I was especially put off by the inclusion of clearly abusive relationships, often between adults & adolescents or masters & slaves. Obviously, these relationships were very common and normalized in ancient Greek culture, but they definitely aren't what I would call good examples of "queer love," and I didn't enjoy reading about them at all. Just because these types of relationships were common to the culture doesn't mean we should romanticize them.

I also felt like these toxic dynamics were not always fully addressed. Hewitt at least acknowledges in one such chapter that "such practices make us uncomfortable now," but I still feel like they are very out of place in this book. The book describes itself as "love stories that reclaim and celebrate homosexual love," so I was (perhaps naively) expecting actual love stories, not stories of rape and abuse.

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This anthology has some interesting works, but unfortunately, like many anthologies, your mileage of enjoyment will vary. I also felt there was not enough focus on the differences in gender roles and definitely not enough context on how the younger man-older man relationship worked in the ancient world.

For me, there were mostly things I had read or heard of before, though the additional works on females / gender nonconforming individuals were appreciated. I also thought the inclusion of further reading was also good, so that if readers did want to learn more they could.

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Beauty in its truest most tragic form.

I truly do not know how to articulate my love and adoration for this book. It’s easily one of my absolute favorite books of the year, if not ever.
This collection of queer stories filled my heart with so much love and joy but also grief (they are, after all set in the world of greek myths & legends)
Each snippet was researched so well and had a little introduction to set the scene. These additional infos on translation/research bias etc made the whole reading experience so much more interesting and made the myths shine in a much more nuanced light.
The writing is absolutely beautiful, I sometimes had to go back and reread a paragraph because I couldn’t fathom the beauty of what I’d just read.
I cried a lot, tears of sadness, yearning, understanding and tears of emotional overload.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to read this as an arc and I can’t thank NetGalley & the publisher enough to make this possible.
As soon as it was officially released I went and bought the book because this work deserves to be celebrated, cherished and read over and over again.

Disclaimer: The ARC was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The ARC category in no way impacts the rating of the book

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This book had three of my favourite things... Queer-focused stories, Ancient Greek mythology /folklore/stories and interesting Artwork.

A collection of writings both known and unknown, this body of work contains stories that run the gamut from the tender,lyrical and endearing, to the epic, funny and plain weird (that had me scratching my head). But through it all, one thing it never stopped being was interesting.

So yeah, long story short, I enjoyed this and will reread it again for the diverse reading experience it provided.

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An absolutely beautiful read. As an avid reader of both Greek myths and modern retellings, this book had me absolutely hooked. A loving and touching ode to queer love through the ages.

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This was a witty, interesting and erotic guide to Queer antiquity- the illustrations complement the text and there is a real sense of lightness and humour throughout. Whilst fully accessible to someone unversed in ancient history it has some translations of fragments that would surprise even experts. The introductions are very thoughtful and the poetic translations elegant and beautiful-there is especial sensitivity given to discussions over gender and difficulties over reading some of the stories through a modern lens. The mood is ultimately that of curiosity and celebration- this book would make a fantastic gift.

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300,000 Kisses is a collection of ancient stories of queer love. Poet Seán Hewitt provides beautiful, contemporary translations of these stories, which range from incredibly well known classics to rarely read sources. Artist Luke Edward Hall then brings these moving stories to life with absolutely stunning illustrations. Combined, the efforts of Hewitt and Hall have produced one of the most moving little collections I have had the pleasure of reading.

Overall, this collection feels incredibly joyous and hopeful. In bringing all of these works together, Hewitt and Hall have done something so powerful and uplifting -- they have highlighted how queer love has always been present in the world. Hewitt's translations are easy to read and follow. I cannot say enough good things about Hall's illustrations that accompany the stories presented in this collection. Every piece is vibrant and beautiful and I can't wait to get my hands on a hard copy of the book so that I can stare at each one some more.

My one small criticism is that I think the stories would benefit from a bit more opening context and analysis. The majority of the text in this collection is dedicated to the actual translations of the ancient works themselves. While I understand and appreciate why this was done, I do think that the average reader could benefit from longer introductions to the texts. Hewitt does a lovely job of setting the reader up for what to expect from each subsequent translated piece, but a bit more context might be useful for a reader who does not have a strong background in the classics.

I had a wonderful time with this collection and I genuinely can't wait to have a copy on my shelf that I can take out and reference over and over again.

Thank you to NetGalley and Clarkson Potter for the ARC of this book.

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I had a really hard time judging this book on it’s own merit. I study classics and this book takes a lot of things out of context and presents works without nuance. It’s a really interesting concept, to present queer stories from the classical world in an anthology. The translations are great, and the introductions do a satisfactory job explaining each selection. This collection does make many of these works accessible and easier to understand. I just can’t get over my critiques from a Classicist perspective. This work presents more as a grab bag of contextless translations than anything meaningful either to queerness today or in the ancient world. The field of sexuality in the ancient world is full of complexity, and this book does a poor job engaging with any of it. It posits a heritage in the ancient world, but refuses to acknowledge the myriad ways in which queerness in this time was fundamentally different than our own.

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When I read more history and factual based books I can’t help but find my attention span drifting off, too much information at once can overwhelm me. In 300,000 Kisses that is not the case. Seán Hewitt with illustrations by Luke Edward Hall give insight into the queer love underrepresented within the Greek and Roman Empire. Hewitt's prologue to me felt poetic, he says "When we consider the many and ongoing erasures of queer history, the baffling silences of the archives, it is deeply moving to see a world, far off from our own, with queerness flowing through its very fabric". A touching tribute that goes right into the pieces. 300,000 Kisses starts off each new translation by explaining what is is about and right below you will find the prose or poetry they mentioned along with an illustration. The Greek and Roman Empire has always intrigued me and this book showed me their history in a queer setting, reframing some of what I knew. Keep in mind the book doesn’t give you all background history about these two empires and so you may need to do some of your own research. As always, I wish there were more information on Sapphic stories but that’s the fault of history not the authors. To add the final flourish to all these translations you get to reflect on illustrations by Hall. These drawings reminded me of being in a museum and admiring art. What could be better than mixing some of my favorite things - reading and reflecting in a museum? Thank you to Seán Hewitt, Luke Edward Hall, Net Galley, and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press.

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I'd like to thank NetGalley for an ARC of this book. It has not influenced my review in any way.

300,000 kisses is a fantastic collection of ancient writings cataloguing the surviving descriptions of queerness in the ancient world. It is a lovely book to read, enhanced by the art within that elevates the contents in accompanies. The short descriptions at the beginning are enlightening and interesting. Truth be told, I would not have minded if they were longer. The excerpts are short and like most of ancient literature, more readable than a modern reader might think. It makes it easy to go through this book in chunks and take your time. There is no rush to enjoy the book.
Something I found odd personally was the organization of the book. It did not feel like the texts were sorted by author, place, time, or theme. However, this can work in the book's favor, as it allows a breather and variety as you go through it.
I would have preferred more discussion of transgender identity and am a little confused as to why it did not make it in. Hermaphroditus or Caenis are easy examples, even without a deep dive. However, if you're looking for a look at queer love, it is quite thorough and has a number of sapphic sources, something often not included in examinations of classical queerness.
While not a critique, I would go nuts for a version of this with the original Greek and Latin for comparison. It would be the icing on the cake, but that's the classics student in me. It's a complete work on its own.
This is a refreshing queer history book that manages to make you feel a little less alone. For every argument that your identity is a modern fiction, this book reminds you that identity can transcend time and place. Its selection of works is excellent and I am seriously considering getting a print copy for the art alone.

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What a gorgeous, gorgeous book. Luke Edward Hall's colourful sketches are the perfect foil to Seán Hewitt's selection of Greco-Roman classical texts. On their own, the texts would be fine but there'd be an air of something more scholarly about them. Maybe, something more distant.

There have been several books published recently with modern day writers queering myth, fable, and ancient times. '300,000 kisses' makes its own contribution. by allowing writers from those ancient times themselves to show queer individuals existed, were thought about, and made their stamp on the times.

In his Prologue, Hewitt emphasises how important it is for people now to know their history. A history that reflects them and acknowledges their existence. His choice of texts is eclectic and they're rendered in clear, idiomatic, modern English. I already knew Juvenal, Martial, Plato, and Ovid, but there's plenty more for me to discover. In a way, that's both tantalising and irritating. The excerpts are long enough to do the job but should inevitably leave the reader wanting more. Good luck in finding modern translations which don't cost a collective arm and leg to buy.

Savour this selection and the wonderful illustrations which accompany them. They're worth it.

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**I was provided an electronic ARC by the publisher through NetGalley.**

Poet Sean Hewitt and artist Luke Edward Hall combine their talents to produce 300,000 Kisses, a collection of works from antiquity that feature queer love.

Hewitt provides accessible and beautiful translations of ancient Greek and Roman works that offer a broad span of insight into the experiences of queerness in antiquity. While the collection leans heavily in the direction of men loving men, historical context and availability of sources easily explains the limited representation of a more broad variety of identities.

Hall's illustrations are flowing and romantic in both style and the soft color palette chosen to bring them to life. Hall's contributions are a gorgeous and vibrant way of highlighting the selected passages.

This team of Hewitt and Hall compile a beautiful collection with just the right amount of commentary and interpretation to stay accessible to the common reader while acknowledging features of society in antiquity that are likely more known amongst scholars of the ancient world than a layperson.

I was delighted by the choices of passages for inclusion and by the choices for interpretation in both translation and visual art. I immediately bought the book for my collection and am happy to recommend this celebration of queerness in antiquity to any interested reader.

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A fantastic look though queer Greek and Roman literature, 300,000 Kisses will become the go-to illustrated anthology to celebrate queer joy at its very core.

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A light, easy-to-read compendium of ancient Greek literature, with a focus on references to queerness. Each excerpt is interspersed with beautiful watercolour illustrations. Would make a perfect gift for any Classics fan.

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This book is a really good read. Bringing together LGBTQ literature and stories that bled in with the classics is a beautiful was to celebrate that LGBTQ humans have been around for as long as humans have existed. Some of the quotes are funny, some bawdy, and some really sweet. I learned that there were far more queer writers back then than I had ever imagined, yes Sappho and the like are in this book, but they're amidst other more obscure but no less interesting historical figures.

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