Cover image for The literature of lesbianism : a historical anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall
The literature of lesbianism : a historical anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall
Castle, Terry.
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxi, 1110 pages ; 27 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN6071.L47 L58 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



Since the Renaissance, countless writers have been magnetized by the notion of love between women. From Renaissance love poems to twentieth-century novels, plays, and short stories, The Literature of Lesbianism brings together hundreds of literary works on the subject of female homosexuality. This is not an anthology of "lesbian writers." Nor is it simply a one-sided compendium of "positive" or "negative" images of lesbian experience. Terry Castle explores the emergence and transformation of the "idea of lesbianism": its conceptual origins and how it has been transmitted, transformed, and collectively embellished over the past five centuries.

Both male and female authors are represented here and they display an astonishing and often unpredictable range of attitudes. Some excoriate female same-sex love; some eulogize it. Some are salacious or satiric; others sympathetic and confessional. Yet what comes across everywhere is just how visible--as a literary theme--Sapphic love has always been in Western literature. As Castle demonstrates, it is hardly the taboo or forbidden topic we sometimes assume it to be, but has in fact been a central preoccupation for many of our greatest writers, past and present.

Beginning with an excerpt from Ariosto's comic epic poem, Orlando Furioso, the anthology progresses chronologically through the next five centuries, presenting selections from Shakespeare, John Donne, Katherine Philips, Aphra Behn, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Alexander Pope, the Marquis de Sade, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Guy de Maupassant, Henry James, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Nella Larsen, Colette, and Graham Greene, among many others. It also includes some anonymous works--several published here for the first time--as well as numerous translations from the writers of antiquity, such as Sappho, Ovid, Martial, and Juvenal, whose rediscovery in the early Renaissance helped shape subsequent Western literary representations of female homosexuality.

Author Notes

Terry Castle is Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Newly translated from Hindi, Valmiki's memoirs invite us into the bleak life of one born into India's lowest caste. As Valmiki's unflinching candor makes clear, India's caste system has survived legal abolition as a potent cultural reality, relegating tens of millions of chandalas (untouchables) to social ostracism, degrading labor, and hopeless poverty. Valmiki details these harsh realities as he has experienced them through living in the squalid shanties of the basti, scavenging meat and leather from putrid roadside carrion, and enduring ridicule and persecution from social superiors. But Valmiki also shares with his readers the inspiring account of how he and other untouchables--who have renamed themselves Dalits--have forged a strong social and political movement to press for their rights as Indian citizens. Though often frustrated by Hindu elites, the Dalits have advanced their cause with impressive dignity and courage. As an editor and writer, Valmiki has done much to stake out a space for Dalit literary expression, well exemplified by this narrative. Fascinating cultural and personal history. --Bryce Christensen Copyright 2003 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Editor Castle (humanities, Stanford Univ.) brings her characteristic good humor and wide-ranging intelligence to bear on a theme she first discussed in The Apparitional Lesbian, namely, what she sees as the ubiquity of "the lesbian idea" in Western literature-"the collective apprehension that women might intimately conjoin for their own sexual pleasure." Her self-described comically diverse assortment of writings-over 1000 pages and by deceased writers only-includes excerpts from the usual suspects, including Emily Dickinson, D.H. Lawrence, and the Marquis de Sade, as well as, surprisingly, Ernest Hemingway, the Book of Ruth in the Bible, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Arranged chronologically, these excerpts-preceded by biographical sketches of their authors, a summary of their attitudes toward lesbianism, and a bibliography-range from a satire on intrigues at the court of Queen Anne of England, to a 17th-century diatribe against masturbation, to the overwrought effusions of the French decadent writers, to journal entries detailing the exhilaration, ambivalence, and exasperation with which several women writers chronicle their lived and fictionalized experiences. Recommended for women's studies, sexuality, and comparative literature collections.-Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This innovative anthology will serve as a superb resource--both as text and as secondary reading--for courses in women's studies, queer studies, gender studies, and introduction to literature courses. Castle (humanities, Stanford Univ.) hopes her readers will approach this text "with sapphic eyes ... no matter what one's official sex or public relation to the enigma of sexual orientation." The choices she makes for this collection go far beyond conventional anthologies of lesbian writing and include writers who write about what Castle calls the lesbian "idea." The excellent introduction explores why the volume includes works from men and women, gay and straight--contributors who explain what it is to be a person who loves, watches, and interrogates women and the idea of a women. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections; all levels. L. Winters College of Saint Elizabeth

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xix
A Note on the Textsp. xxiii
Introductionp. 1
The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuriesp. 57
From Orlando Furioso (1532)
"Elegy for a Lady Fallen for Another Lady" (1573)
"Memorable Stories About Women Who Have Degenerated Into Men" (1573)
from The Journal of Montaigne's Travels in Italy by Way of Switzerland and Germany (1581)
"Poem XLIX" from The Maitland Quarto Manuscript (1586)
from The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (1590)
from Gallathea (1592)
from As You Like It (1600)
from Twelfth Night (1602)
The Book of Ruth
"On a Lady Named Beloved" (1617)
from Hic Mulier: or, The Man-Woman (1620)
from Ovid's Metamorphosis Englished (1626)
"Sapho to Philaenis" (1633)
"To Mr. J.D." (c. 1633)
"Epigram on the Court Pucelle" (1640)
"On the Friendship Betwixt Two Ladies" (1645)
"Tribades, or Lesbia" (1646)
from Upon Appleton House (1650)
"Two Beauties, Tender Lovers" (c. 1650)
from Dialogues on the Arcana of Love and Venus by Luisa Sigea Toletana (1660-78)
from The Life and Death of Mrs. Mary Frith. Commonly Called Moll Cutpurse (1662)
"To My Excellent Lucasia, on Our Friendship"
"Parting with Lucasia: A Song"
"Orinda to Lucasia"
"Friendship's Mystery: To My Dearest Lucasia"
"Injuria Amici" (1664)
from Lives of Gallant Ladies (1665-1666)
"To the Fair Clorinda, Who Made Love to Me"
"Verses Design'd by Mrs. A. Behn to be sent to a Fair Lady, that Desir'd She Would Absent Herself to Cure her Love"
"Accompanying a Ring Bearing the Portrait of la Senora Condesa de Paredes. She Explains"
"Ines, Dear, with your Love I am Enraptured" (c. 1685)
"On a Picture Painted by Herself, Representing Two Nymphs of Diana's, One in a Posture to Hunt, the Other Bathing"
"On the Soft and Gentle Motions of Eudora" (attr.) (1686)
from The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis (1693)
"Love and Friendship: A Pastoral" (1696)
"Venus's Reply" from A Collection of the Most Choice and Private Poems, Lampoons, &c. (1699)
The Eighteenth Centuryp. 189
"The Ladies of the New Cabal" from The New Atalantis (1709)
Spectator No. 223 (1711)
Translation of Sappho Fragment 31 ("Blest as th'Immortal Gods is He") (1711)
"Sappho to Phaon" (1712)
"Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia" (1713)
From Memoirs of the Life of Count Grammont (1713)
"Madrigal" (1715)
"Letter to Madame la Marquise de S[--], On Sending her Tobacco" (1715)
from the Embassy Letters (1716-18)
"Cloe to Artimesa" (1720)
Monsieur Thing's Origin: or Seignor D--o's Adventures in Britain (1722)
from A Supplement to the Onania, or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution (c. 1725)
"The Female Cabin Boy" (c. 1730)
Translation of Sappho Fragment no. 31 ("Happy as a God is He") and no. 130 ("Dire Love, Sweet-Bitter Bird of Prey!") (1735)
from The Sappho-An. An Heroic Poem of Three Cantos, in the Ovidian Style, Describing the Pleasures which the FAIR SEX Enjoy with Each Other (c. 1735)
from Pamela (1740-41)
from Sir Charles Grandison (1753-54)
The Female Husband (1746)
from Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748-49)
"The Game of Flatts" from Satan's Harvest Home (1749)
from The Indiscreet Jewels (1748)
from The Nun (1760)
from A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke (1755)
from Anecdotes of a Convent (1771)
from "Dialogue between Sappho and Ninon de l'Enclos, in the Shades" (1773)
from The Adulteress (1773)
from A History of My Life (1789-98)
from Juliette (1792)
from the journals of Eleanor Butler (1784-1821)
"Elegy Written at the Sea-side, and Addressed to Miss Honora Sneyd" (c. 1780)
from Llangollen Vale, Inscribed to the Right Honourable Lady Eleanor Butler, and Miss Ponsonby (1796)
"In a Letter to A.R.C., On Her Wishing to be Called Anna"
"Invitation--To J.B.C."
"A Valentine" (1797)
The Nineteenth Centuryp. 349
from Belinda (1801)
Christabel (1816)
from Christabess: A Right Woeful Poem (1816)
from The Diaries of Anne Lister (1824-26)
"To the Lady E.B. and the Hon. Miss P., Composed in the Grounds of Plas Newydd, Near Llangollen, 1824" (1824)
from Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835)
from The Girl With the Golden Eyes (1835)
"A Young Girl Seen in Church" (1838)
"To George Sand: A Desire" (1844)
from Villette (1853)
"Damned Women 1 (Delphine and Hippolyta)"
"Damned Women 2" (1857)
Goblin Market (1862)
"Anactoria" (1866)
from Lesbia Brandon (1864-67)
Scenes of Sapphic Love (1867)
"Her Breast is Fit for Pearls"
"Her sweet Weight on my Heart a Night"
"Ourselves were wed one summer--dear--"
"Precious to Me--She still shall be--"
"The Stars are old, that stood for me--"
"Frigid and sweet Her parting Face--"
"To see her is a Picture--" (1851-86)
Translation of Martial's Epigram VII.67 ("Abhorrent of All Natural Joys") from The Index Expurgatorius of Martial, Literally Translated (1868)
from Desperate Remedies (1871)
"Since I Died" (1873)
"Felipa" (1876)
from Nana (1880)
"Paul's Mistress" (1881)
From My Secret Life (1882-1894)
"Sinfonia Eroica (To Sylvia)"
"To Lallie"
"At a Dinner Party"
from Lila and Colette (1885)
from The Bostonians (1886)
"Erinna, Thou Art Ever Fair"
"Atthis, My Darling"
"Maids, Not to You"
"Power in Silence"
"My Lady Has a Lovely Rite" (1889)
from The Songs of Bilitis (1894)
from A Madman's Manifesto (1895)
"Before Dark" (1896)
from Cities of the Plain (1921)
"Tommy, the Unsentimental" (1896)
"The Lesbian Hell" (1898)
The Twentieth Centuryp. 599
"Beneath the Surface"
"The Unfading"
"Vagabonds" (1900)
"Couplets" (1900)
"Sappho Lives Again"
"Words to my Friend" (1901)
"Kashmiri Song"
"From Behind the Lattice" (1901-1905)
"Brown Girl" (1901)
from Pandora's Box (1903)
"If You Come" (1904)
"Leves Amores" (1907)
"Friendship" (1919)
"The Spirit of Thy Singing"
"Oh! That Thy Lips Were a Goblet of Crystal" (1910)
"Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself" (1926)
"Hora Stellatrix"
"In a Garden"
"The Weather-Cock Points South" (1912-1919)
"The Amazon on the Fountain" (1914)
"Are You Happy?"
"Beneath My Plush Wool Plaid's Caresses"
"Tonight, Between Seven and Eight"
"How Can I Not Remember" from "The Girlfriend Poems" (1914-15)
Letter to the Amazon (1934-36)
"In Words, in Their Cold Interlacing"
"At Times Our Premonitions"
"Blindly Staring Eyes"
"You Sleep, My Companion-Lover"
"You Came In"
"I, Like a Blind Woman" (1916-32)
from Lifting Belly (1915)
"Miss Furr and Miss Skeene" (1922)
"As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story" from A Book Concluding with As a Wife Has a Cow: A Love Story (1926)
from The Rainbow (1915)
"A Quoi Bon Dire"
"On the Road to the Sea"
"The Road to Kerity"
"My Heart Is Lame" (1916)
from Regiment of Women (1917)
"The Fire" (1917)
from Despised and Rejected (1918)
"I Can't Feel the Sunshine"
"You Want a Lily" (1918)
Letters to Vita Sackville-West (1918-19)
from My Blue Notebooks (1919-41)
From an unpublished memoir (1920)
"Self-Epitaph, Composed by an Honest Sensualist"
"She Brought with Careless Hand"
"Tess" (1927-1934)
"A Dream of Sappho"
"Death Shall Not Ease Me of You"
"Mea Culpa"
"But If You Come to Me by Day" (1922)
from The Flower Beneath the Foot (1923)
"Fragment Thirty-Six" from Heliodora (1924)
from HERmione (1927)
from Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
from Orlando (1928)
from The Tortoise-Shell Cat (1925)
"The Pash" (1926)
from The Captive (1926)
from Dusty Answer (1927)
from Extraordinary Women (1928)
The Sink of Solitude (1928)
"Cassation" (1929)
"The Jungle" (1929)
"Prove It on Me Blues"
"B.D. Woman Blues"
"Has Anybody Seen My Corinne"
from Passing (1929)
from Strange Brother (1931)
from My Thirty Years' War (1930)
"Lesbian-Ape" from The Apes of God (1930)
from The Pure and the Impure (1932)
from Spangled Unicorn (1932)
"The Knife of the Times" (1932)
"Since the First Toss of Gale that Blew"
"Out of Your Left Eye"
"I Would Give You Alexander's Bucephalus"
"Loved with an L..."
"Drawing You, Heavy with Sleep" (1933)
"The Sea Change" (1933)
from Intimate Memories (1933)
"The Bathe"
"Two Hanged Women" (1934)
from Devoted Ladies (1934)
"Sappho or Suicide" (1936)
from Of Lena Geyer (1936)
"Breeze Anstey" (1937)
from Diana: A Strange Autobiography (1939)
"It Is Marvelous to Wake Up Together" (c. 1942)
from Two Serious Ladies (1943)
"Going to Massachusetts" (1966)
from The Friendly Young Ladies (1944)
from For Sylvia (1949)
from Olivia (1949)
"Women Are Like Geography" (1949)
from The Price of Salt (1952)
from La Batarde (1964)
"Chagrin in Three Parts" (1967)
"Zeitl and Rickel" (1968)
"Memory Is All: Alice B. Toklas" (1975)
Copyright Acknowledgmentsp. 1081
Index of Selected Names, Titles, and Topicsp. 1089