The 6 Best Slash Pairings in Classic Literature
The term “slash” usually refers to same-sex couples in modern media and the fanfiction derived thereof, but not always. Look, people have been writing homoerotic subtext (and sometimes not even subtext) into their books for as long have books have existed—whether it was in the Roaring Twenties, the Victorian Era, or even Ancient Greece. (Especially Ancient Greece.) And since it’s Pride Month, I say it’s high time we talked about this.
Hamlet and Horatio from Hamlet
Shakespeare probably did not realize that, in creating Horatio as the level-headed companion to our fledgling antihero Hamlet, he was inspiring thousands of pages of rabid fanfiction as well as actual dissertations on the subject. But inspire he did. Throughout the play, Hamlet, at various points, describes Horatio as the greatest man he’s ever known, tells him he loves him, quibbles affectionately with him about philosophy, and straight-up dies in his arms like a lovelorn suitor.
Nick Carraway and Gatsby from The Great Gatsby
I think we can all agree that F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing Nick with some plausible deniability here. “Yes,” he probably said more than once, “I definitely made it SEEM like Nick was into Gatsby, and I definitely made it APPEAR as though Nick was constantly checking out Tom Buchanan, and SURE, WHATEVER, there MAY HAVE BEEN a scene where Nick hooked up with a male photographer. But he liked girls and sometimes dated them, even! That’s canon! He had a thing with Jordan Baker, remember? End of story, don’t @ me.”
Maybe I’m reading too far into it. Maybe Nick was obsessing over Gatsby and waxing poetic about how handsome he was, you know, platonically. I’m willing to be wrong about this; just let me believe.
Achilles and Patroclus from Greek mythology
No one can quite agree what was going on between Achilles, greatest of the Greeks, and Patroclus, a guy who was also there. According to Homer, Socrates, and that one Brad Pitt movie, they were just friends. According to Plato, Aeschylus, and arguably Shakespeare, they were passionate lovers. Either way, people are drawing fanart of them all over the Internet, and thank the various Olympian gods for that.
Jane Eyre and Helen Burns from Jane Eyre
In the Victorian Era, the only way anyone apparently knew how to describe a woman’s physical appearance was with words like “shapely” and “with a fine penciling of long lashes round.” That’s why it seems like Jane is so taken with Miss Temple the second she gets to Lowood. But then. Then? Well, then she meets Helen Burns. Jane spends whole paragraphs describing Helen Burns. Her beauty, the liquid luster of her eyes, her RADIANCE. I don’t know that Jane and Helen ever had a thing, but I also don’t know that they didn’t.
Clarissa and Sally Seton from Mrs. Dalloway
Presumably, every time Virgina Woolf picked up a novel, her personal opinion was “You know what this needs? MORE WOMEN LOVING WOMEN.” In Mrs. Dalloway, the eponymous Clarissa Dalloway has a brief fling with the free-spirited Sally Seton. Clarissa truly loves her, feels about her “as men feel,” and says the kiss they shared was “the most exquisite moment of her whole life.” They both wind up settling down into a life of traditional marriage, children, and domesticity. But they’ll always have that time they kissed in the garden and plotted to abolish private property.
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories
I realize John eventually gets married to Mary Morstan, but I can’t think of a single heterosexual reason for THIS SENTENCE from The Speckled Band:
Then he broke into a low laugh and put his lips to my ear. "It is a nice household," he murmured.
Or THIS SENTENCE from A Study in Scarlet:
Sherlock Holmes seemed delighted at the idea of sharing his rooms with me.
Or THIS ONE, from The Devil’s Foot:
In recording from time to time some of the curious experiences and interesting recollections which I associate with my long and intimate friendship with Mr. Sherlock Holmes...
Look, I get that he finds Sherlock all kinds of fascinating, but JOHN, JUST BE COOL.