This hefty assemblage of poetry, fiction, journals and correspondence from more than 75 women and men charts the evolution of the lesbian psyche and lesbian fictional characters through four centuries. Grouping her material into six sections, Faderman ( Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers ) first examines the concept of romantic friendship between women, as in Christina Rossetti's ``Goblin Market.'' She acknowledges the importance of male thought on perceptions of lesbianism, using case studies by Krafft-Ebing and Freud; literary examples include Radclyffe Hall's correspondence, Vita Sackville-West's journals and a Willa Cather story. The most entertaining section explores the ``carnivorous flowers,'' literature of exotic and evil lesbians. Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 lesbian vampire novella, ``Carmilla,'' is juxtaposed against an excerpt from Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories . The book's fourth part examines the literature of lesbian encoding, created by women who hid their sexual thoughts in the voices of male characters or with ``bearded'' pronouns: authors included under this rubric are Gertrude Stein, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, H.D., Carson McCullers, May Sarton and Jane Bowles. The next section charts the rise of the lesbian feminist voice in the '60s and '70s and features pieces by Rita Mae Brown and Joanna Russ. Sarah Schulman's witty ``The Penis Story'' highlights the final section, in which Faderman charts the course of ``post-lesbian-feminist literature'' into more explicitly sexual territory, with many pieces from minority writers. Faderman's notes are indispensable. There will be debate over the choice of selections, however; Faderman admits that many of her chosen authors wouldn't have considered themselves lesbian. (July)
Faderman's (Surpassing the Love of Men, 1981) substantial compilation of literature about love between women includes works from over 75 European and North American writers from the 17th through the 20th centuries. Faderman identifies six major categories of lesbian literature and the writers exemplifying each: romantic friendship (e.g., Aphra Behn, Emily Dickinson); sexual inversion (e.g., Maria Edgeworth, Colette); exotic and evil lesbians (e.g., Djuna Barnes, Anas Nin); lesbian encoding (e.g., Charlotte Mew, Gertrude Stein); lesbian feminism (e.g., Rita Mae Brown, Audre Lorde); and post-lesbian feminism (e.g., Chrystos, Cheryl Clarke). Faderman provides theoretical, historical, and biographical contexts for the correspondence, essays, short stories, and poetry found here and includes men's writings on women's relationships. Although there will be disagreements about some of the inclusions, all will agree that Faderman provides a significant contribution to the literature of gender, lesbian, and literary studies.-Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, N.J.
Editor Faderman is no charlatan striving to pass off pre-twentieth-century writers as lesbian in the modern sense. For example, she explains that the seventeenth-century poet Katharine Fowler Philips, who wrote very passionately, indeed, to and about her female friends, was called by her contemporaries the English Sappho solely to compliment her poetic ability; further, Faderman points out that, in Philips' time, the prevalent myth about Sappho's love life had to do with her supposed suicide over a young male sailor. Because of such scrupulousness, this massive historical anthology finds room for writings by men about women's romantic friendship, sexual psychology (excerpts from Krafft-Ebing and Freud), and evil lesbian sexuality (Baudelaire and Sheridan LeFanu's famous vampire novella Carmilla). But not surprisingly, most of the contents, which include personal letters as well as poetry and fiction, come from this century; for manageability, they are the work of English and American writers only (Monique Wittig, French but long resident in the U.S., is the sole exception). A most intelligent and absorbing collection that fills a gap among historic literary surveys.