Harvard, 1966. Abel Jones is in his third year. He is an exceptional student, head of the class. He is studying history. His area of focus, the eighteenth century. England and France. Still, there are days when he is lost. Days when he is perplexed. For one, he is excruciatingly shy, soft-spoken. A young man from the country. There are times when he even feels out of his depth. The university is distinctively male, overwhelmingly white—a kind of white. It is marked by class. Even one’s residence defines him. The best rooms are on the second floor, where the most well-to-do reside. A scholarship student, Abel lives on the top floor. Sex is possible. It is commonly available in the bathrooms. At times, he can’t help but think that he’s no better than a pervert.
It is recommended that the undergraduates take a term off in order to find their place in the world. His classmates spend time in Rome. In Athens. He visits a psychotherapist in Cambridge, one who he discovers later is quite distinguished. He’s told that he can’t possibly be a pervert. Or a homosexual, but that he is having what the experts refer to as “sexual panic.” As soon as he succeeds in dating a woman, he will come to his senses. Everything will align.
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