By Julie Abraham
"Are ladies necessary?" asks Julie Abraham during this provocative research of 20th-century lesbian writing. reading the improvement of lesbian writing in English around the twentieth Century, Abraham identifies a shift from this "romance" version to a extra advanced "history" version. the nice modernists, Woolf and Stein, in addition to the preferred writers of succeeding generations, like Mary Renault, regarded to ancient narratives, growing a massive switch within the method the "lesbian tale" is outfitted. the chances in lesbian writing, from the early romance plots via to the post-1960s liberation flow experiments, are Abraham's geography. inside it, she bargains precise readings of significant writers in numerous genres, from excessive glossy to pulp, either British and American.
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Additional resources for Are Girls Necessary?: Lesbian Writing and Modern Histories
There is the verbal message of compliance destined for the Lacadaemonians, those who command obedience. " That Fayne was the runner next in line, who would have carried on had she not turned against Hermione, indicates the lesbian content of these messages. H. D. elaborates on the contradiction between these two messages: "Obeying their orders? Whose orders? I have been almost faithful. In order to be faithful I will forego faith, I will creep back into the shell in order to emerge full fledged, a bird, a phoenix.
Each move Therese makes towards Carol, the woman she discovers she loves, moves her away from her boyfriend Richard. When he is finally convinced that she will not marry him, and disappears cursing from the picture, she has to reject still another heterosexual proposal, from the more appealing Dannie. Highsmith is explicit about the connections between these choices: Therese's "consciousness . . stopped in a tangle where a dozen threads crossed and knotted. One was Dannie. One was Carol. . One went on and on out of it, but her mind was caught at the intersection.
This fluidity is sometimes checked by the representation of lesbians as gender-transgressive: the masculine Stephen Gordon is physically repulsed by the only heterosexual proposition she receives. But this is implicitly horror at a homosexual proposition, the gesture of one masculine character towards another. Moreover, there are lesbian novels—such as Vin Packer's pulp Spring Fire—in which the butch goes straight while the femme stays gay. Finally, if through the lesbian novel the lesbian is defined by her position in a relationship, the lesbian novel ties the lesbian to the novel as a genre, insofar as the novel is, after all, the genre which places a premium on the representation of personal relationship.