Read The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall by Terry Castle Online


Since the Renaissance, countless writers have been magnetized by the notion of love between women. From Renaissance love poems to twentieth-century novels, plays, and short stories, The Literature of Lesbianism brings together hundreds of literary works on the subject of female homosexuality. This is not an anthology of "lesbian writers." Nor is it simply a one-sided compeSince the Renaissance, countless writers have been magnetized by the notion of love between women. From Renaissance love poems to twentieth-century novels, plays, and short stories, The Literature of Lesbianism brings together hundreds of literary works on the subject of female homosexuality. This is not an anthology of "lesbian writers." Nor is it simply a one-sided compendium of "positive" or "negative" images of lesbian experience. Terry Castle explores the emergence and transformation of the "idea of lesbianism" its conceptual origins and how it has been transmitted, transformed, and collectively embellished over the past five centuries.Both male and female authors are represented here and they display an astonishing and often unpredictable range of attitudes. Some excoriate female same-sex love; some eulogize it. Some are salacious or satiric; others sympathetic and confessional. Yet what comes across everywhere is just how visible--as a literary theme--Sapphic love has always been in Western literature. As Castle demonstrates, it is hardly the taboo or forbidden topic we sometimes assume it to be, but has in fact been a central preoccupation for many of our greatest writers, past and present.Beginning with an excerpt from Ariosto's comic epic poem, Orlando Furioso, the anthology progresses chronologically through the next five centuries, presenting selections from Shakespeare, John Donne, Katherine Philips, Aphra Behn, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Alexander Pope, the Marquis de Sade, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Bront', Emily Dickinson, Guy de Maupassant, Henry James, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Colette, and Graham Greene, among many others. It also includes some anonymous works--several published here for the first time--as well as numerous translations from the writers of antiquity, such as Sappho, Ovid, Martial, and Juvenal, whose rediscovery in the early Renaissance helped shape subsequent Western literary representations of female homosexuality....

Title : The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780231125109
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 1110 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall Reviews

  • D
    2019-02-17 10:00

    A chunky 1110-page compilation that may benefit from further curation.Monster in the old-fashioned or root sense, means simply a sight provoking awe or wonder (Etymologically, monster derives from the Latin monstrare, to show.) This sort of response is most often to be found in 16th and 17th century works, when authors and readers alike were struggling to absorb the cognitive surprise of Greco-Roman homosexuality. The core discovery encapsulated here is that it is possible to run against the course of nature. The writer's overriding attitude is one of seduced credulity: his goal is to seduce the reader likewise.She pulled my sleeve and kissed my arm all the way up from fingertips to shoulder. (Denis Diderot, The Nun)Sapphic pathos: Unlike the pleasure betokened by the moonlight swim, the sweet thing on the tongue, the kiss on the shoulder, no anthology -- crude and ill-featured object that it is -- will ever satisfy so fully.[Sappho: c620–c565 b.c, Greek poet, born in Lesbos]With what eyes? reads one of Sappho's most haunting fragments. With what eyes, indeed, to peruse the assortment of pleas, plaints, paeans, and perfidies collected here? With "Sapphic" eyes, one hopes -- no matter what one's official sex or public relation to the enigmas of sexual orientation. By which I mean with eyes open and human enough to take it all in: the Earth and her beautiful garlands, love aborted and love found. With no man present, Eros, as Sappho knew, can be bittersweet. (He can also -- as in Firbank or Stein or Greene -- be wildly amusing.) But he is nonetheless a god, to whom paying tribute is advised. Sappho paid up first, and showed the rest of us the way.Sappho: I would not exchange my sensibility for your philosophy -- God give me feeling, tho' it sting me to the the heart!Saturday, March 29, 1788 -- Celestial lovely day. Reading, drawing. Saw a white lamb in the Clerk's hanging Field. My beloved and I went the Home Circuit. Walked round our empty garden many times, liked it infinitely better empty than occupied by that Drunken idle Richard. Sweetest lovely day, close, nay even sultry. Lambs bleating, Birds singing, everything that constitutes the Beauty of solitude and retirement...Soft fine rain. - Journal of Eleanor Butler[The Ladies of Llangollen was a nickname for Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, two upper-class Irish women whose relationship scandalized and fascinated their contemporaries.]A ValentineWhat shall I send my sweet today,When all the woods attune in love?And I would show the lark and dove,That I can love as well as they.I'll send a kiss, for that would beThe quickest sent, the lightest borne,And well I know tomorrow mornShe'll send it back again to me.Go, happy winds; ah, do not stay,Enamoured of my lady's cheek,Bust hasten home, and I'll bespeakYour services another day!Mary Matilta Betham (1776-1852)"She comes from a country where women are not beings, but things -- chattels, with which one does as one wills, which one buys, sells and slays; in short, which one uses for one's caprices as you, here, use a piece of furniture. Besides, she has one passion which dominates all the others, and which would have stifled her maternal love, even if she had loved her daughter, a passion --" "You are too young yet, too lovely," said Henri, taking her in his arms and giving her a kiss."Good-bye," she said; "there is no consolation when you have lost that which has seemed to you the infinite."- Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)Charlotte Brontë (1816-55) From VilletteCharlotte and her sister Emily, Anne, and their brother, Branwell, all were gifted writers, and all except for Branwell, who descended into alcoholism and died in his early 20s, would later produce novels of distinction.Charlotte decided to start her own school and went to Brussels to improve her French at a private boarding school. There she fell deeply and unhappily in love with the married headmaster, Constantin Heger, who subsequently became the model for M Paul in her novel Villette.To see her is a Picture -- To hear her is a Tune --To know her an IntemperanceAs innocent as June --To know her not -- Affliction --To own her for a FriendA warmth as near as if the SunWere shining in your Hand. - Emily Dickinson (1830-86)I see no smile,I hear no bells.Your great eyesAre quiet pools;They have been drinking, drinking,All the day,The hot gold of sunlight.Your eyes spill sunlightOver the dust.Close your eyes,I hear nothing but the beating of my heart. - Angelina Weld Grimé (1880-1918)But I want your life before mine bleeds away --Here -- not in heavenly hereafters -- soon,--I want your smile this very afternoon,(The last of all my vices, pleasant people used to say,I wanted and I sometimes got -- the Moon!) - Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)I Can't Feel the SunshineI can't feel the sunshineOr see the stars arightFor thinking ofher beautyAnd her kisses bright.She would let me kiss herOnce and not again.Deeming soul essential,Sense doth she disdain....Would that I were Sappho,Greece my land, not this!There the noblest women,When they loved, would kiss. - Lesbia Harford (1891-1927)21 Jan 1921Charming surprise! My Flossie came to see me, after letting me know by telephone. She was dressed jauntily -- Amazon style, what else! in a dark wool dress lightened by a green-embroidered white waistcoat. A caped coat over her shoulders, a plain felt hat on her blonde hair. With her brisk style, her implacable smile, her tenderness towards me, her instinctively caressing little hands, she looked very young and very happy. I plunged into this renewed contact.July 12Nothing amuses me this morning. - Liane de Pougy (1869-1930)HD [Hilda Doolittle] (1886-1961)Grew up in Bethlehem, PA, attended Bryn Mawr, where she studied literature and Greek mythology. She began a relationship w/ poet and shipping heiress, Winifred Ellerman, better known as Bryher, who nursed HD devotedly when HD almost died during the Spanish influenza epidemic that raged across Europe in 1919. Upon returning from a visit to Greece, HD and Bryher set up house together in London and lived there and in Switzerland for the remainder of their lives.HD's second book of poetry, Hymen, subsidized by Bryher, appeared in 1921.Thomas Burke (1886-1945)"The Pash" (1926)Born in London into a shabby-genteel family, Burke found his primary literature inspiration int he city of his birth. The use of the slang term "pash" in the title is evocative. In 19th century British slang, a "pash" was a small coin, a usage hinted at in the image of Miriam as the infatuated Amy's "silver sixpence." By the turn of the century, however, like "smash" and "crush" (and the German Schwarm) it had become a favorite term for feverish homoerotic passions -- especially between schoolgirls, or between a girl and an older woman.Janet Flanner (1892-1978)"Memory Is All: Alice B Toklas" (1975)The American journalist, Janet Flanner, for 50 years the Paris correspondent of The New Yorker, was born into a middle-class family in Indianapolis, where her father was a prosperous undertaken. Flanner's private life was a fulfilling one. Though a loner at heart -- she lived much of her Parisian life in a single room at the Hôtel Continental -- she enjoyed several long-term lesbian attachments. "Memory Is All" is at once a poignant souvenir of a famous couple, a nostalgic backward glance at early 20th-century lesbian history, and a testament to its author's spirited, generous, and salient view of the world.

  • Jocilyn
    2019-01-27 10:02

    Extremely useful resource for Lesbian, Feminist and Women's Lit Crit. Despite the fact that it weighs 20 lbs and I'm apt to destroy the dust jacket, I reference this book almost every day. Beware, many of the cited works you will not be able to lay your hands on with any ease.

  • M. Jane Colette
    2019-02-01 07:10

    This is a brick of a book.What a terrible way to start a review. Really, what I’m saying is “This book is too big and intimidating and I’m afraid of it.”Which might be its intent, a little. It is a scholarly, Columbia University Press publication, and it was certainly never intended for the mass market.It was published in 2003. Reading it 13 years later (occasionally feeling like I will be reading it for 13 years), I am simultaneously grateful for editor Terry Castle’s Herculean effort in bringing this massive (more than a 1000 pages!) volume together… and also, thinking… but NOBODY except a handful of queer lit scholars is going to read this!So CUP, let’s take this baby mainstream. This is the story of work that should exist as a blog. Or an app. Because the content is fabulous. It introduced me to authors I was not aware of—and threads of queer subtext (or overt text!) in the writing of authors I would have never thought of as contributing to lesbian literature. So—amazing.But. Nobody except a handful of queer lit scholars is ever going to read this.Sigh.I’m giving it three-stars because of the presentation/accessibility issue. The research is five-star. The stories/poems within run the gamut. One could spend a lifetime reading and re-reading some of them… and others, well, that’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.Still. Very happy this book exists. So thank you, Terry Castle.

  • Karen
    2019-02-05 06:16