Published by Pluto Press
1989, 231pp, ISBN 0745303668, Paperback
Believing that love is best described in a work of art, Jane Rule has chosen for this study of lesbianism the work of brilliantly articulate lesbian writers such as Gertrude Stein, Colette, Vita Sachville West and Willa Cather. Her concern is to discover what images of lesbians these and other lesbian writers have portrayed in fiction, biography and autobiography — and in particular how they were influenced by religious and psychological concepts as well as their own personal experience in presenting their lesbian characters. Besides revealing the courage of these women in a hostile environment she examines the negative morality in the minds of some of them and reassesses their ideas from a feminist standpoint.
In her introductory chapters the author looks at the way love between women has been viewed by society from ancient times to the present; how the Christian church treated both male and female inversion as a punishable sin; and how psychiatry evolved out of the same ancient prejudices that cripple the church. What was “sin” became “sickness” and “punishment” was replaced with “treatment”. In her final chapter Jane Rule looks at the dramatic changes that came about with the advent of the women’s movement and the occasionally bitter and painful infighting among lesbians and feminists — expressing ultimately a feeling of hope and optimism for a more positive future.
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