The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories

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And more than that - sometimes women love women. Like Queen Victoria, the world has preferred to believe that sex between women is impossible, resulting in a long silence between the writings of Sappho and the flowering of talent produced by feminism and the sexual revolution. Lesbian writing has come a long way since Virginia Woolf's famous essay of 1928. Since then women have challenged traditional forms of expression and subject matter in an extraordinarily rich and varied discourse to give voice to the ...
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Overview

And more than that - sometimes women love women. Like Queen Victoria, the world has preferred to believe that sex between women is impossible, resulting in a long silence between the writings of Sappho and the flowering of talent produced by feminism and the sexual revolution. Lesbian writing has come a long way since Virginia Woolf's famous essay of 1928. Since then women have challenged traditional forms of expression and subject matter in an extraordinarily rich and varied discourse to give voice to the lesbian imagination. In this wide-ranging anthology, Margaret Reynolds has brought together the work of thirty-two women from Britain, continental Europe, and the Americas - including three specially commissioned pieces - that covers nearly a century of lesbian writing, from Sarah Orne Jewett (1897) to Jeanette Winterson (1993). The collection ranges from Frances Gapper's pastiche of a Romantic melodrama, through the wry humor of Merril Mushroom's description of butch and femme courting rituals, to the wit of Alison Bechdel's cartoon strip. The anxiety of unresolved desire is present in many stories - Radclyffe Hall's Miss Ogilvy is unable truly to find herself in this world, Djuna and Lillian hold back from each other in Anais Nin's "Cities of the Interior," and the energy and commitment that should go into a loving relationship are stifled by convention in Jane Rule's story of passion outside marriage. But here are brave spirits, too - Renee Vivien's Sarolta and her Prince(ss) live forever in a vision of ideal tenderness, Colette's heroines preserve the sanctity of their little white bed, and Jewelle Gomez's bulldagger society survives far from the haunts of men. There are coming-out stories, stories about cross-dressing, vampire tales, science fiction, parody, and romance. Each story is quite different from the others, yet each acknowledges a particular facet of lesbian history and makes it real.

In this wide-ranging anthology, 32 women from Britain, continental Europe and the Americas express the depth and complexity of lesbian literature. Including stories about coming-out and cross-dressing, as well as vampire tales, science fiction, parody, and romance, this collection "casts the world in a different light."--The New Republic.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Showing the full range of fictional expression, this adventurous anthology opens with Sarah Orne Jewett's 1897 story, ``Martha's Lady,'' a delicate yet impassioned evocation of a furtive lesbian love and closes with Jeanette Winterson's lyrical, uninhibited ``The Poetics of Sex'' (1993). Its 32 selections trace a historical pattern in lesbian experience as it moves from invisibility and ambivalence to greater self-acceptance. Many of the pieces are experimental, such as Kathy Acker's sardonic dream vision of heterosexual marriage, and Canadian Nicole Brossard's incantatory monologue meant to close the distance between the speaker, her mother, her daughter and her lover. Among the authors--lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual--are Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Radclyffe Hall, Katherine Mansfield, Colette, Anais Nin, Isak Dinesen, Monique Wittig, Sara Maitland and Pat Califia. Two pieces feature pictures: Alison Bechdel's comic strip ``Serial Monogamy,'' whose disillusioned protagonist forces readers to reexamine set attitudes about lesbians and straights; and Djuna Barnes's 17th-century pastiche ``Ladies Almanack'' (1928), a daybook of the exploits of a much-in-demand hostess complete with woodcuts. Reynolds, who has written abiography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, enlarges the dimensions of the lesbian experience in this rewarding omnibus. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In the last half-dozen years, collections of lesbian plays, coming-out stories, mysteries, and poetry have been published, mostly by small presses. Now, The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories strides into place alongside the others. This book takes the long perspective, reaching back to Sarah Orne Jewett at the turn of the century, Radclyffe Hall in the Thirties, and Isak Dinesen and Ann Bannon in the late Fifties. Stretching forward, it encompasses contemporary writers such as Jewelle Gomez, Emma Donoghue, Dorothy Allison, and Jeannette Winterson, who supplied the introduction. These stories are like a thick stew containing many types of characters in different settings. Rarely, the editor clarifies a passage with a note, more of which would have been helpful. As Virginia Woolf notes in A Room of One's Own , ``It would be a thousand pities if women wrote like men, . . . for if two sexes are quite inadequate, considering the vastness and variety of the world, how should we manage with one only?'' The many talented writers published here reveal the truth of that assertion. For any public library where demand for short stories is great.-- Lisa Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140240184
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/11/1994
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
Martha's Lady (1897) 1
Prince Charming (1904) 20
Leves Amores (1907) 24
The Wise Sappho (c. 1916-18) 26
Miss Furr and Miss Skeene (1922) 35
Ladies Almanack (1928), extract 41
A Room of One's Own (1928), Chapter 5 70
Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself (1934) 84
Nuits Blanches (1934) 104
Olivia (1949), Chapter 8 108
The Blank Page (1957) 117
Cities of the Interior (1959), extract 123
I am a Woman (1959), extract 134
Les Guerilleres (1969), extract 161
These Our Mothers (1977) 183
Sweethearts (1976 and 1979) 204
Esther's Story (1987) 207
How to Engage in Courting Rituals 1950s Butch-style in the Bar (1982) 213
Bread (1984) 219
His Nor Hers (1985) 240
5 1/2 Charlotte Mews (1986) 251
Lullaby for My Dyke and Her Cat (1987) 263
Don't Explain (1987) 273
A Lesbian Appetite (1988) 284
The Vampire (1988) 302
The Secret of Sorrerby Rise (1991) 324
Serial Monogamy (1992) 357
City of Boys (1992) 368
Cold-blooded (1992) 384
Words for Things (1993) 387
The Language of the Body (1993) 399
The Poetics of Sex (1993) 412
Notes on the Authors 423
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