Is the Goddess a Feminist?: The Politics of South Asian Goddesses

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Alf Hiltebeitel, Kathleen M. Erndl
NYU Press, 2000 - Religion - 287 pages

This landmark book represents the first publication of original writing by Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness, in over 50 years.

One of the most famous and influential lesbian novelists of the twentieth century, Hall became a cause clbre in 1928, upon the publication of her novel The Well of Loneliness, when the British government brought action on behalf of the Crown to declare the book obscene. Probably the most widely read lesbian novel ever written, the book has been continuously in print since its first publication and remains to this day an important part of the literary landscape. 

Expertly deciphered and edited by Hall scholar and biographer Joanne Glasgow, Your John is a selection of Hall's love letters to Evguenia Souline, a White Russian èmigrè with whom Hall fell completely and passionately in love in the summer of 1934. Written between this first meeting and the onset of Hall's last illness in 1942, these letters detail Hall's growing obsession, the pain to her life partner Una Troubridge of this betrayal, and the poignant hopelessness of a happy resolution for any of the three women. It was ultimately this relationship, Glasgow argues, which tragically precipitated the decline in Hall's creative work and her health. The letters also provide important new information about her views on lesbianism and take us well beyond the artistic limits she imposed on the characters in The Well of Loneliness. They shed light on her views on religion, politics, war, and the literary and artistic scene. Illuminating both the nature of her relationships and her views on the current politics of the time, Your John will greatly extend the range of our knowledge about Radclyffe Hall.

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List of Contributors
Woman as Goddess
The Samkhyan Goddess as Pativrata
Rajput Kuldevis in Rajasthan
Is Shakti Empowering for Women? Reflections on Feminism
Is the Goddess a Feminist?
Is the Devi Mahatmya a Feminist Scripture?
Is the Great Goddess of Hinduism a Feminist?
Is Vajrayogini a Feminist? A Tantric Buddhist Case Study
The Feminist Vision of the Hindu Goddess
Seeking Ma Seeking
A Debate
Index of Authors

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About the author (2000)

ALF HILTEBEITEL is Professor of Religion and Director of the Human Sciences Program at George Washington University. His books include Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics: Draupad.

KATHLEEN M. ERNDL is Associate Professor of Religion at Florida State University and author of Victory to the Mother: The Hindu Goddess of Northwest India in Myth, Ritual, and Symbol.

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