The Literature of Lesbianism

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Overview

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 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 Brontë, 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.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Bibliotheque d'Humanisme et Renaissance Chronique

This is an excellent companion to earlier collections of gay literature.

Choice

This innovative anthology will serve as a superb resource -- both as a text and as a secondary reading -- for courses in women's studies, queer studies, gender studies, and introduction to literature courses.... Highly recommended.

Time Magazines Literary Supplement
Castle makes a genial host... [and] we begin to get a clearer sense of the moral and imaginative power of female homosexuality. Castle is a grand debunker in everything she writes. Her refreshing common sense and humour gives this enormous book an enormous appeal. A marvellous introduction charts the territories covered. There are no encumbering notes, but extensive further reading is offered, and her introductions to the entries are alert, good-natured, helpful and entertaining.
ForeWord - Elizabeth Millard

Castle should be commended for adding such an essential volume to any literary bookshelf.

Stanford Magazine - Diane Rogers

Castle has a consistently engaging style that will draw general readers as well as scholars of feminist criticism and gay and lesbian literary theory.

Out.com - Matthew Breen

Castle's massive and highly readable volume is a greater, more encompassing accumulation -- an exploration of the origin and transmutation of the idea of lesbianism in Western literature, spanning five centuries.

Los Angeles Times Book Review - Edmund White

Wonderfully elucidating.

Lambda Book Report - Lorallee MacPike

One of the great pleasures of reading this anthology is the opportunity to eavesdrop on Castle talking to herself. Her usual wry wit is present everywhere... [ The Literature of Lesbianism] shows not what has been written by lesbians but what has been written about them. For this alone it is uniquely valuable.... If I could have but one volume of lesbian literature, this would be the one.

Times Literary Supplement

Castle makes a genial host... [and] we begin to get a clearer sense of the moral and imaginative power of female homosexuality. Castle is a grand debunker in everything she writes. Her refreshing common sense and humour gives this enormous book an enormous appeal. A marvellous introduction charts the territories covered. There are no encumbering notes, but extensive further reading is offered, and her introductions to the entries are alert, good-natured, helpful and entertaining.

Choice

This innovative anthology will serve as a superb resource -- both as a text and as a secondary reading -- for courses in women's studies, queer studies, gender studies, and introduction to literature courses.... Highly recommended.

Marina Warner

Castle's full, rich, and spirited selection exults in the risk of border crossings. Reading with an acute critical sense of historical change, she has defined her topic with inclusive generosity, admitting peeping toms as well as embattled advocates to her band of literary lesbian writers. The effect is emancipatory, mind-stretching, witty, and often joyous.

ForeWord
Castle should be commended for adding such an essential volume to any literary bookshelf.

— Elizabeth Millard

Stanford Magazine
Castle has a consistently engaging style that will draw general readers as well as scholars of feminist criticism and gay and lesbian literary theory.

— Diane Rogers

Out.com
Castle's massive and highly readable volume is a greater, more encompassing accumulation — an exploration of the origin and transmutation of the idea of lesbianism in Western literature, spanning five centuries.

— Matthew Breen

Los Angeles Times Book Review
Wonderfully elucidating.

— Edmund White

Lambda Book Report
One of the great pleasures of reading this anthology is the opportunity to eavesdrop on Castle talking to herself. Her usual wry wit is present everywhere... [ The Literature of Lesbianism] shows not what has been written by lesbians but what has been written about them. For this alone it is uniquely valuable.... If I could have but one volume of lesbian literature, this would be the one.

— Lorallee MacPike

Girlfriends Magazine

The Literature of Lesbianism is an invitation to explore a vast array of offerings that demonstrate the richness of the lesbian literary heritage.

Books to Watch Out For Newsletter

It's hard to decide what's more amazing: the astonishing (and often unpredictable) range of attitudes, the range of writers included.

Library Journal
Editor Castle (humanities, Stanford Univ.) brings her characteristic good humor and wide-ranging intelligence to bear on a theme she first discussed in The Apparitional Lesbian, namely, what she sees as the ubiquity of "the lesbian idea" in Western literature-"the collective apprehension that women might intimately conjoin for their own sexual pleasure." Her self-described comically diverse assortment of writings-over 1000 pages and by deceased writers only-includes excerpts from the usual suspects, including Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, and the Marquis de Sade, as well as, surprisingly, Ernest Hemingway, the Book of Ruth in the Bible, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Arranged chronologically, these excerpts-preceded by biographical sketches of their authors, a summary of their attitudes toward lesbianism, and a bibliography-range from a satire on intrigues at the court of Queen Anne of England, to a 17th-century diatribe against masturbation, to the overwrought effusions of the French decadent writers, to journal entries detailing the exhilaration, ambivalence, and exasperation with which several women writers chronicle their lived and fictionalized experiences. Recommended for women's studies, sexuality, and comparative literature collections.-Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231125109
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2003
  • Pages: 1110
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 2.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Castle is Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities in the Department of English at Stanford University. She is the author of, among other books, The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (Columbia, 1993), and Kindred Spirits: Noel Coward and Radclyffe Hall (Columbia, 1996). She has written widely on lesbian literature and culture for The New Republic, The London Review of Books, TLS, and other publications.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

The Sixteenth and Seventeenth CenturiesFrom Orlando Furioso (1532), by Ludovico Ariosto (1474--1533)"Elegy for a Lady Fallen for Another Lady'' (1573), by Pontus de Tyard (1521--1605)From The Journal of Montaigne's Travels in Italy by Way of Switzerland and Germany (1581), by Michel de Montaigne (1533--1592)"Memorable Stories about Women Who Have Degenerated into Men'' (1573), by Ambroise ParÇ (1510?--1590)"Poem XLIX'' from The Maitland Quarto Manuscript (1586), by AnonymousFrom The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (1590), by Sir Philip Sidney (1554--1586)From Gallathea (1592), by John Lyly (1554?--1606)From As You Like It and Twelfth Night (1600--1602), by William Shakespeare (1564--1616)The King James BibleThe Book of Ruth (1611)"On a Lady Named Beloved'' (1617), by Anne de Rohan (1584--1646)From Hic Mulier: or, The Man-Woman (1620), by AnonymousFrom Ovid's Metamorphosis Englished (1626), by George Sandys (1578--1644)"Sapho to Philaenis'' (1633), by John Donne (1572--1631)"To Mr. J.D.'' (c. 1633), by Mr. T.W."Epigram on the Court Pucelle'' (1640), by Ben Jonson (1572--1637)"On the Friendship Betwixt Two Ladies'' (1645), by Edmund Waller (1606--1687)"Tribades, or Lesbia'' (1646), by Franáois de Maynard (1582--1646)From Upon Appleton House (1650), by Andrew Marvell (1621--1678)"Two Beauties, Tender Lovers'' (c. 1650), by Denis Sanguin de Saint-Pavin (1595--1670)From The Life and Death of Mary Frith. Commonly Called Moll Cutpurse (1662), by Anonymous"To My Excellent Lucasia, on Our Friendship'', by Katherine Philips (1632--1664)From Dialogues on the Arcana of Love and Venus by Luisa Sigea Toletana (1660--78), by Nicolas Chorier (1612--1692)"Parting with Lucasia: A Song''; "Orinda to Lucasia''"Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia''"Injuria Amici'' (1664)From Lives of Gallant Ladies (1665--1666), by Pierre de Bourdeilles, Seigneur de Brantìme (c. 1540--1614)"To the Fair Clorinda, Who Made Love to Me'', by Aphra Behn (1640--1689)"Inés, Dear, with your Love I am Enraptured'' (c. 1685)"Verses Design'd by Mrs. A. Behn to be sent to a Fair Lady, that Desir'd She Would Absent Herself to Cure her Love''"Accompanying a Ring Bearing the Portrait of la Se§ora Condesa de Paredes. She Explains'', by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648--1695)"On the Soft and Gentle Motions of Eudora'' (attr.) (1686)From The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis (1693), by John Dryden (1631--1700)"On a Picture Painted by Herself, Representing Two Nymphs of Diana's, One in a Posture to Hunt, the Other Bathing'', by Anne Killigrew (1660--1685)"Love and Friendship: A Pastoral'' (1696), by Elizabeth Singer Rowe (1674--1737)The Eighteenth Century"The Ladies of the New Cabal'' from The New Atlantis (1709), by [Mary] Delariviäre Manley (1663--1724)"Venus's Reply'' from 'A Collection of the Most Choice and Private Poems, Lampoons, &c.'(1699), by AnonymousSpectator No. 223 (1711), by Joseph Addison (1672--1719)Translation of Sappho Fragment 31 ("Blest as th'Immortal Gods is He'') (1711), by Ambrose Philips (1675?--1749)"Sappho to Phaon'' (1712), by Alexander Pope (1688--1744)"Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia'' (1713), by Anne Finch, Countess of Winchelsea (1661--1720)From Memoirs of the Life of Count Grammont (1713), by Anthony Hamilton (1646?--1720)"Madrigal'' (1715), by Pauline de Simiane (1676--1737)"Letter to Madame la Marquise de S[imiane], On Sending her Tobacco'' (1715)From the Embassy Letters (1716--18), by Mary Wortley Montagu (1689--1762)"Cloe to Artimesa'' (1720), by AnonymousFrom Monsieur Thing's Origin: or Seignor D--o's Adventures in Britain (1722), by AnonymousFrom A Supplement to the Onania, or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution (c. 1725), by Anonymous"The Female Cabin Boy'' (c. 1730), by AnonymousFrom Pamela (1740--41) and Sir Charles Grandison (1753--54), by Samuel Richardson (1689--1761)Translation of Sappho Fragment no. 31 ("Happy as a God is He'') and no. 130 ("Dire Love, Sweet-Bitter Bird of Prey!'') (1735), by John Addison (n.d.)The Female Husband (1746), by Henry Fielding (1707--1754)From the The Sappho-An. An Heroic Poem of Three Cantos, in the Ovidian Style, Describing the Pleasures which the FAIR SEX Enjoy with Each Other (c. 1735), by AnonymousFrom Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748--49), by John Cleland (1709--1789)"The Game of Flatts'' from Satan's Harvest Home (1749), by AnonymousFrom The Indiscreet Jewels (1748) and The Nun (1760), by Denis Diderot (1713--1784)From A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke (1755), by Charlotte Charke (1713--1760)From Anecdotes of a Convent (1771), by AnonymousFrom "Dialogue between Sappho and Ninon de l'Enclos, in the Shades'' (1773), by AnonymousFrom The Adulteress (1773), by AnonymousFrom A History of My Life (1789--98), by Giacomo Casanova (1725--1798)From Juliette (1792), by Marquis de Sade (1740--1814)From the journals of Eleanor Butler (1784--1821), by Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby (&'grave;The Ladies of Llangollen'')"Elegy Written at the Sea-side, and Addressed to Miss Honoria Sneyd'' (c. 1780), by Anna Seward (1742--1809)"In a Letter to A.R.C., On her Wishing to be Called Anna'', by Mary Matilda Betham (1776--1852)"Invitation--To J.B.C.''From Llangollen Vale, Inscribed to the Right Honourable Lady Eleanor Butler, and Miss Ponsonby (1796)"A Valentine'' (1797)The Nineteenth CenturyFrom Belinda (1801), by Maria Edgeworth (1767--1849)Christabel (1816), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772--1834)"S.T. Colebritche, Esq.''From Christabess: A Right Woeful Poem (1816)From The Diaries of Anne Lister (1824--26), by Anne Lister (1791--1840)From Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835), by Théophile Gautier (1811--1872)From The Girl With the Golden Eyes (1835), by Honoré de Balzac (1799--1850)"To the Lady E.B. and the Hon. Miss P., Composed in the Grounds of Plas Newydd, Near Llangollen, 1824'' (1824), by William Wordsworth (1770--1850)"A Young Girl Seen in Church'' (1838), by Eliza Mary Hamilton (1807--1851)"To George Sand: A Desire'' (1844), by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806--61)From Villette (1853), by Charlotte Brontë (1816--1855)"Lesbos'', by Charles Baudelaire (1821--1867)"Damned Women 1 (Delphine and Hippolyta)''"Damned Women 2'' (1857)Goblin Market (1862), by Christina Rossetti (1830--1894)"Anactoria'' (1866), by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837--1909)Lesbia Brandon (1864--67)Scenes of Sapphic Love (1867), by Paul Verlaine (1844--1896)"Her Breast is Fit for Pearls'', by Emily Dickinson (1830--1886)"Her sweet Weight on my Heart a Night''"Going--to--Her!''"Ourselves were wed one summer--dear--''"Precious to Me--She still shall be--''"The Stars are old, that stood for me--''"Frigid and sweet Her parting Face--''"To see her is a Picture--'' (1851--86)From Desperate Remedies (1871), by Thomas Hardy (1840--1928)"Since I Died'' (1873), by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844--1911)Translation of Martial's Epigram VII.67 ("Abhorrent of All Natural Joys'') from The Index Expurgatorius of Martial, Literally Translated (1868), by George Augustus Sala (1828--1896)"Felipa'' (1876), by Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840--1894)From Nana (1880), by êmile Zola (1840--1902)"Paul's Mistress'' (1881), by Guy de Maupassant (1850--1893)"Walter''From My Secret Life (1882--1894)"Sinfonia Eroica (To Sylvia)'', by Amy Levy (1861--1889)"To Lallie''"Borderland''"At a Dinner Party''From Lila and Colette (1885), by Catulle Mendäs (1841--1909)From The Bostonians (1886), by Henry James (1843--1916)"Erinna, Thou Art Ever Fair''"Atthis, My Darling''"Michael Field'' [Katherine Harris Bradley (1846--1914) and Edith Cooper (1862--1913)]"Maids, Not to You''"Power in Silence''"Daybreak''"My Lady Has a Lovely Rite'' (1889)From The Songs of Bilitis (1894), by Pierre Louòs (1870--1925)From A Madman's Manifesto (1895), by August Strindberg (1849--1912)"Before Dark'' (1896), by Marcel Proust (1871--1922)Two Excerpts from Cities of the Plain (1921)"Tommy, the Unsentimental'' (1896), by Willa Cather (1873--1947)"The Lesbian Hell'' (1898), by Aleister Crowley (1875--1947)The Twentieth Century"Marie Madeleine'', by [Marie Madeleine von Puttkamer] (1881--1944)"Crucifixion''"Beneath the Surface''"The Unfading''"Vagabonds'' (1900)"Woman'', by Natalie Barney (1876--1972)"Couplets'' (1900)"Sappho Lives Again'', by RenÇe Vivien (1877--1909)"Words to my Friend'' (1901)"Laurence Hope'' [Adela Florence Nicolson] (1865--1904)"Kashmiri Song''"From Behind the Lattice'' (1901--1905)"Rosabel'', by Angelina Weld GrimkÇ (1880--1958)"Brown Girl'' (1901)From Pandora's Box (1903), by Frank Wedekind (1864--1918)"If You Come'' (1904), by Lucie Delarue-Mardrus (1874--1945)"Leves Amores'' (1907), by Katherine Mansfield (1888--1923)"Friendship'' (1919)"The Spirit of Thy Singing'', by Radclyffe Hall (1880--1943)"Oh! That Thy Lips Were a Goblet of Crystal'' (1910)"Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself'' (1926)"Hora Stellatrix'', by Amy Lowell (1874--1925)"Stupidity''"Anticipation''"Vintage''"Aubade''"In a Garden''"The Weather-Cock Points South'' (1912--1919)"Vernon Lee'' [Violet Paget] (1856--1935)"The Amazon on the Fountain'' (1914)"Are You Happy?'', by Marina Tsvetaeva (1892--1941)"Beneath My Plush Wool Plaid's Caresses''"Tonight, Between Seven and Eight''"How Can I Not Remember'' from "The Girlfriend Poems'' (1914--15)Letter to the Amazon (1934--36)"In Words, in Their Cold Interlacing'', by Sophia Parnok (1885--1933)"At Times Our Premonitions''"Blindly Staring Eyes''"You Sleep, My Companion-Lover''"You Came In''"I, Like a Blind Woman'' (1916--32)From "Lifting Belly'' (1915), by Gertrude Stein (1874--1946)"Miss Furr and Miss Skeene'' (1922)From The Rainbow (1915), by D. H. Lawrence (1885--1930)"Quoi Bon Dire'', by Charlotte Mew (1869--1928)"As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story'' from A Book Concluding with As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story (1926)"On the Road to the Sea''"The Road to KÇrity''"My Heart Is Lame'' (1916)From Regiment of Women (1917), by &'grave;Clemence Dane'' [Winifred Ashton] (1887--1965)"The Fire'' (1917), by Helen Rose Hull (1888--1971)From Despised and Rejected (1918), by &'grave;A. T. Fitzroy'' [Rose Allatini] (1890?--1980?)"I Can't Feel the Sunshine'', by Lesbia Harford (1891--1927)"You Want a Lily'' (1918)Letters to Vita Sackville-West (1918--19), by Violet Trefusis (1894--1972)From My Blue Notebooks (1919--41), by Liane de Pougy (1869--1950)From an Unpublished Memoir (1920), by Vita Sackville-West (1892--1962)"Self-Epitaph, Composed By an Honest Sensualist''"She Brought with Careless Hand''"Tess'' (1927--1934)"A Dream of Sappho'', by Rose O'Neill (1874--1944)"Death Shall Not Ease Me of You''"Mea Culpa''"But If You Come to Me by Day'' (1922)From The Flower Beneath the Foot (1923), by Ronald Firbank (1886--1926)"Fragment Thirty-Six'' from Heliodora (1924), by H.D. [Hilda Doolittle] (1886--1961)From HERmione (1927)From Mrs. Dalloway (1925), by Virginia Woolf (1882--1941)From Orlando (1928)From The Tortoise-Shell Cat (1925), by Naomi Royde-Smith (1875--1964)"The Pash'' (1926), by Thomas Burke (1886--1945)From The Captive (1926), by êdouard Bourdet (1887--1945)From Dusty Answer (1927), by Rosamond Lehmann (1901--1990)From Extraordinary Women (1928), by Compton Mackenzie (1883--1972)The Sink of Solitude (1928), by Anonymous"Cassation'' (1929), by Djuna Barnes (1892--1982)"The Jungle'' (1929), by Elizabeth Bowen (1899--1973)Lesbian Blues Lyrics of the 1920s"Prove It on Me Blues''"B.D. Woman Blues''"Has Anybody Seen My Corinne''From Passing (1929), by Nella Larsen (1891--1964)From Strange Brother (1931), by Blair Niles (1890--1959)From My Thirty Years' War (1930), by Margaret Anderson (1886--1973)"Lesbian-Ape'' from The Apes of God (1930), by Wyndham Lewis (1884--1957)From The Pure and the Impure (1932), by Colette (1873--1954)From Spangled Unicorn (1932), by Noâl Coward (1899--1973)"The Knife of the Times'' (1932), by William Carlos Williams (1883--1963)"Since the First Toss of Gale that Blew'', by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893--1978)"Out of Your Left Eye''"I Would Give You Alexander's Bucephalus''"Loved with an L.... ''"Drawing You, Heavy with Sleep"The Sea Change'' (1933), by Ernest Hemingway (1899--1961)From Intimate Memories (1933), by Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879--1962)"The Bathe'', by &'grave;Henry Handel Richardson'' [Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson] (1870--1946)"Two Hanged Women'' (1934)From Devoted Ladies (1934), by &'grave;M. J. Farrell'' [Molly Keane] (1905--1994)"Sappho or Suicide'' (1936), by Marguerite Yourcenar (1903--1987)From Of Lena Geyer (1936), by Marcia Davenport (1903--1996)"Breeze Anstey'' (1937), by H. E. Bates (1905--1974)From Diana: A Strange Autobiography (1939), by &'grave;Diana Frederics''"It is Marvellous to Wake Up Together'' (c. 1942), by Elizabeth Bishop (1911--1979)From Two Serious Ladies (1943), by Jane Bowles (1917--1973)Going to Massachusetts (1966)From The Friendly Young Ladies (1944), by Mary Renault (1905--1983)From For Sylvia (1949), by Valentine Ackland (1906--1969)From Olivia (1949), by Dorothy Strachey (1865--1960)"Women Are Like Geography'' (1949), by Gertrude Lawrence (1898--1952)From The Price of Salt (1952), by &'grave;Claire Morgan'' [Patricia Highsmith] (1921--1995)From La BÉtarde (1964), by Violette Leduc (1907--1972)"Chagrin in Three Parts'' (1967), by Graham Greene (1904--1991)"Zeitl and Rickel'' (1968), by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904--1991)"Memory is All: Alice B. Toklas'' (1975), by Janet Flanner (1892--1978)

Columbia University Press

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Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

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