The Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories
Viking, 1994 - Fiction - 429 pages
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 arecoming-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.
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W as It was a little later that we had the usual Mardi Gras fancy - dress ball . Oh ,
yes , it was exactly like all other girls ' school fancy - dress balls . There was a day
' s disorganization , while the dresses were being made and we were allowed ...
Tonight , she was wearing a long , black dress with spaghetti straps . It was very
low - cut , but a short jacket with long sleeves was worn over the dress , and
concealed everything except a white diamond of cleavage . A brilliant red stone ...
I bathed with pleasure , and emerged from the water in good spirits . Opening the
closet , I found a dress of yellow silk and brocade , heavy and richly patterned ,
with a hooped petticoat and another of silver lace . Ranged on a shelf below
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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 ... Read full review
SARAH ORNE JEWETT Marthas Lady 1897
GERTRUDE STEIN Miss Furr and Miss Skeene 1922
DJUNA BARNES Ladies Almanack 1928 extract
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