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literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

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Novel: Lesbian  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  

Schulman's novel Girls, Visions and Everything (1986), although not a crime novel, still has the gritty, urban background of Shulman's other stories. In this book, Schulman explores the streets and alleys of New York City through the character of Lila Futuransky, a poor Jewish lesbian. Although the story focuses on Lila's romance with Emily, it also explores what it means to view culture from a lesbian perspective, as does Schulman's recent novel Empathy (1992).

Like Schulman, Jeanette Winterson tries to expand the limits of the traditional lesbian novel. Winterson's first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), is definitely a lesbian success story; the book even became a BBC television production in 1990. Winterson's hilarious but poignant work focuses on the coming of age of a young lesbian, Jeanette, in an evangelical household in the industrial midlands of England.

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Artistically, the novel is a brilliant success. Critic Hilary Hinds especially notes its "fluidity, its ability to cut across so many critical and cultural categories and positions, its refusal to be pigeonholed as one sort of text or another. . . ." In her later novels, The Passion (1987), Sexing the Cherry (1989), and Written on the Body (1992), Winterson continues to show that she is what critic Terry Castle calls "the reigning mistress of postmodern lesbian drollery."

Other Important Lesbian Novelists of the 1990s

There are many other important lesbian novelists of the 1990s, including Paula Martinac and Dorothy Allison. In Home Movies (1993), Martinac explores how a lesbian understands the death of her uncle from AIDS. Allison, too, is concerned with addressing social issues in her novel Bastard out of Carolina (1992), which discusses poverty and child abuse in the South.

Martinac and Allison are only two of the many contemporary lesbian novelists who use the novel as a forum for social critique. Schulman, Winterson, Martinac, Allison, and other lesbian writers seek to redefine the lesbian novel in the 1990s and beyond. We can await the results with great anticipation.

Sherrie A. Inness

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   Related Entries
  
literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Lesbian, 1900-1969

American lesbian literature prior to Stonewall exploited the "outlaw" status of the lesbian as it moved from encrypted strategies of expression to overt political celebrations of woman-for-woman passion.

literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Lesbian, Post-Stonewall

Since Stonewall various political agendas have dominated American lesbian literature.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Twentieth-Century

Homosexuality, both male and female, has a rich, divergent, and increasingly open expression in the literature of the twentieth century.

literature >> Overview:  Historical Fiction

Glbtq historical fictions creatively interweave fiction with facts in ways that have not only won them a large readership but also have offered that readership insightful illuminations of glbtq histories.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

literature >> Overview:  Mystery Fiction: Lesbian

Although most lesbian mystery fiction reflects a political stance, the most effective lesbian crime novels have been those that have most enthusiastically embraced the need to entertain the reader.

arts >> Overview:  Pulp Paperbacks and Their Covers

Despite the stereotyping of their cover art and their pathologizing of lesbianism, the American pulp novels of the 1950s and 1960s subverted the social and political prohibitions against homosexual expression during the McCarthy era.

literature >> Overview:  Romance Novels

Appealing to glbtq people who enjoy romantic fantasy, the queer romance novel has recently come into its own.

literature >> Allen, Paula Gunn

Of mixed Native American, Scottish, and Lebanese heritage, American poet and literary scholar Paula Gunn Allen reinterprets the historic and mythic beliefs of Native Americans from a twentieth-century lesbian-feminist perspective.

literature >> Allison, Dorothy E.

South Carolina native Dorothy Allison refuses to write didactic or romantic illustrations of the lesbian experience, focusing instead on the sheer survival of her lesbian characters in the hostile environment of Southern working-class families.

literature >> Alther, Lisa

American novelist Lisa Alther creates fictional worlds in which lesbianism is a fluctuating force as tenuous as all other forms of relationships in a frequently absurd universe.

literature >> Arnold, June

Lesbian and feminist novelist and publisher June Fairfax Davis gave voice to complicated characters who previously had no voice in literature.

literature >> Bannon, Ann

In a series of five interlinked pulp novels set in Greenwich Village and its homosexual bars in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Bannon provides an important record of lesbian life in a period when few women dared speak openly about homosexuality.

literature >> Barnes, Djuna

American novelist Djuna Barnes sought new forms of self-representation of lesbians in the face of society's compulsory heterosexuality.

literature >> Bradley, Marion Zimmer

A matriarch of fantasy and science fiction literature, Marion Zimmer Bradley also authored lesbian paperback pulps and articles for The Ladder and Mattachine Review.

literature >> Brown, Rita Mae

Lesbian poet and novelist Rita Mae Brown, best known for the highly successful Rubyfruit Jungle, resists neat categorization.

literature >> Cather, Willa

One of America's premier literary artists in the earlier twentieth century, Willa Cather reflected her own lesbianism in the creation of strong women characters and in the exploration of male homosexuality.

literature >> Cliff, Michelle

Jamaican-born writer Michelle Cliff explores issues of race, class, and sexuality in her prose and poetry.

literature >> Duffy, Maureen

Maureen Duffy has published novels that present both lesbian and gay male characters within a broad social and political panorama.

literature >> Dykewomon, Elana

In both her poetry and prose, Elana Dykewomon presents the lesbian as an active, dynamic hero on center stage.

literature >> Forrest, Katherine V.

Writer and editor Katherine V. Forrest has played a major role in bringing lesbian fiction to the forefront of the mystery and science fiction genres.

literature >> Hall, Radclyffe

Radclyffe Hall, who lived her lesbianism openly and proudly, is best known for The Well of Loneliness, arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written.

literature >> Harris, Bertha

The novelist Bertha Harris has been credited with creating what was called a "new lesbian fiction."

literature >> Hart, Ellen

Prolific mystery writer Ellen Hart, winner of multiple Lambda Literary Awards, writes "whydunits" rather than "whodunits."

literature >> Highsmith, Patricia

Acclaimed mystery writer Patricia Highsmith is the author of one explicitly lesbian novel, as well as the popular series featuring the amoral bisexual Tom Ripley.

literature >> James, Henry

Though closeted, Henry James had a number of intimate relations with young men, and his sexual orientation imbued his fiction.

literature >> Lorde, Audre

The work of African-American activist and writer Audre Lord was greatly influenced by her lesbianism.

literature >> Martinac, Paula

Writer Paula Martinac's career has been devoted to exploring and documenting the place that lesbians occupy in society, history, and the family.

literature >> McDermid, Val

Award-winning mystery writer Val McDermid writes three successful series of novels, including one featuring lesbian investigative reporter Lindsay Gordon.

literature >> Miller, Isabel

The fiction of Isabel Miller explores and celebrates relationships between women, often across class lines.

literature >> Ortiz-Taylor, Sheila

A prolific writer and respected teacher, Sheila Ortiz-Taylor has bracketed her career with groundbreaking achievements.

literature >> Rule, Jane

Though dealing forthrightly with lesbian and gay subjects, the novels and criticism of Jane Rule are deliberately nonpolitical in their commitment to diverse communities and a range of experiences.

literature >> Russ, Joanna

In both her science fiction and her criticism, Joanna Russ is outspokenly lesbian and feminist.

literature >> Sackville-West, Vita

Best known for her relationship with Virginia Woolf and for her scandalous love affairs, Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

literature >> Sapphire (Ramona Lofton)

Bisexual African-American novelist, poet, and performance artist Sapphire came to public attention with works that focus on the harrowing realities of inner city existence.

literature >> Sarton, May

May Sarton, who gradually revealed her lesbianism in her writing, worked successfully in poetry, the novel, essays, and the journal.

literature >> Schulman, Sarah

Author and playwright Sarah Schulman is concerned with constructing a lesbian identity around and against the multicultural identities of New York.

literature >> Shockley, Ann Allen

Popular short story writer and novelist Ann Allen Shockley treats both interracial and lesbian experiences.

literature >> Stein, Gertrude

In addition to becoming--with Alice B. Toklas--half of an iconic lesbian couple, Gertrude Stein was an important innovator and transformer of the English language.

literature >> Winterson, Jeanette

Jeanette Winterson's prize-winning novels exploring lesbian and gender issues have quickly gained a following not only among lesbian and gay readers but also among mainstream readers as well.

literature >> Wittig, Monique

The controversial lesbian author and theorist Monique Wittig has produced some of the most challenging fictional and theoretical work of second-wave feminism.

literature >> Wolverton, Terry

Throughout her varied career as a writer, editor, teacher, and performance artist, Terry Wolverton has consistently worked to document glbtq history and increase the visibility of the community.

literature >> Woolf, Virginia

Passionate friendships with women were essential to the life and work of novelist Virginia Woolf.


    Bibliography
   

Castle, Terry. The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Hinds, Hilary. "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit: Reaching Audiences Other Lesbian Texts Cannot Reach." New Lesbian Criticism: Literary and Cultural Readings. Sally Munt, ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. 153-172.

Jay, Karla and Joanne Glasgow, eds. Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. New York: New York University Press, 1990.

Spraggs, Gillian. "Hell and the Mirror: A Reading of Desert of the Heart." New Lesbian Criticism: Literary and Cultural Readings. Sally Munt, ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992. 115-131.

Stimpson, Catharine. "Zero Degree Deviancy: The Lesbian Novel in English." Critical Inquiry 8.2 (Winter 1981): 363-379.

Zimmerman, Bonnie. The Safe Sea of Women: Lesbian Fiction 1969-1989. Boston: Beacon, 1990.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Inness, Sherrie A.  
    Entry Title: Novel: Lesbian  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated October 30, 2007  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/novel_lesbian.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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