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Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2010
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Description
From a writer of astonishing versatility and erudition, the much-admired literary critic, novelist, short-story writer, and scholar (“Dazzling”—The Washington Post; “One of those rare writers who seems to be able to work on any register, any time, any atmosphere, and make it her own” —The Observer), a book that explores the little-known literary tradition of love between women in Western literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Agatha Christie, and many more.
Emma Donoghue brings to bear all her knowledge and grasp to examine how desire between women in English literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. Donoghue looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the “unspeakable subject,” examining whether such desire between women is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil, heartwarming or ridiculous as she excavates a long-obscured tradition of (inseparable) friendship between women, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history.
Donoghue writes about the half-dozen contrasting girl-girl plots that have been told and retold over the centuries, metamorphosing from generation to generation. What interests the author are the twists and turns of the plots themselves and how these stories have changed—or haven’t—over the centuries, rather than how they reflect their time and society.
Donoghue explores the writing of Sade, Diderot, Balzac, Thomas Hardy, H. Rider Haggard, Elizabeth Bowen, and others and the ways in which the woman who desires women has been cast as not quite human, as ghost or vampire.
She writes about the ever-present triangle, found in novels and plays from the last three centuries, in which a woman and man compete for the heroine’s love . . . about how—and why—same-sex attraction is surprisingly ubiquitous in crime fiction, from the work of Wilkie Collins and Dorothy L. Sayers to P. D. James.
Finally, Donoghue looks at the plotline that has dominated writings about desire between women since the late nineteenth century: how a woman’s life is turned upside down by the realization that she desires another woman, whether she comes to terms with this discovery privately, “comes out of the closet,” or is publicly “outed.”
She shows how this narrative pattern has remained popular and how it has taken many forms, in the works of George Moore, Radclyffe Hall, Patricia Highsmith, and Rita Mae Brown, from case-history-style stories and dramas, in and out of the courtroom, to schoolgirl love stories and rebellious picaresques.
A revelation of a centuries-old literary tradition—brilliant, amusing, and until now, deliberately overlooked.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
05/25/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307593610
ASIN:
B0036S4CUW
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APA Citation (style guide)

Emma Donoghue. (2010). Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Emma Donoghue. 2010. Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Emma Donoghue, Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Emma Donoghue. Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2010.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • value: literature
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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Donoghue, Emma
      • bioText: Emma Donoghue is the author of sixteen books, including the best-selling novels Slammerkin, Life Mask, and Room. Donoghue’s reputation as a literary historian has grown with the publication of two anthologies: Poems Between Women (1997) and The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Short Stories (1999). Donoghue has lectured at universities in Ireland, Britain, and the United States on Irish studies and eighteenth-century gay/lesbian history. She lives in London, Ontario.
      • name: Emma Donoghue
imprint
Knopf
publishDate
2010-05-25T00:00:00-04:00
isOwnedByCollections
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title
Inseparable
fullDescription
From a writer of astonishing versatility and erudition, the much-admired literary critic, novelist, short-story writer, and scholar (“Dazzling”—The Washington Post; “One of those rare writers who seems to be able to work on any register, any time, any atmosphere, and make it her own” —The Observer), a book that explores the little-known literary tradition of love between women in Western literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Agatha Christie, and many more.
Emma Donoghue brings to bear all her knowledge and grasp to examine how desire between women in English literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. Donoghue looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the “unspeakable subject,” examining whether such desire between women is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil, heartwarming or ridiculous as she excavates a long-obscured tradition of (inseparable) friendship between women, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history.
Donoghue writes about the half-dozen contrasting girl-girl plots that have been told and retold over the centuries, metamorphosing from generation to generation. What interests the author are the twists and turns of the plots themselves and how these stories have changed—or haven’t—over the centuries, rather than how they reflect their time and society.
Donoghue explores the writing of Sade, Diderot, Balzac, Thomas Hardy, H. Rider Haggard, Elizabeth Bowen, and others and the ways in which the woman who desires women has been cast as not quite human, as ghost or vampire.
She writes about the ever-present triangle, found in novels and plays from the last three centuries, in which a woman and man compete for the heroine’s love . . . about how—and why—same-sex attraction is surprisingly ubiquitous in crime fiction, from the work of Wilkie Collins and Dorothy L. Sayers to P. D. James.
Finally, Donoghue looks at the plotline that has dominated writings about desire between women since the late nineteenth century: how a woman’s life is turned upside down by the realization that she desires another woman, whether she comes to terms with this discovery privately, “comes out of the closet,” or is publicly “outed.”
She shows how this narrative pattern has remained popular and how it has taken many forms, in the works of George Moore, Radclyffe Hall, Patricia Highsmith, and Rita Mae Brown, from case-history-style stories and dramas, in and out of the courtroom, to schoolgirl love stories and rebellious picaresques.
A revelation of a centuries-old literary tradition—brilliant, amusing, and until now, deliberately overlooked.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review
      • content:

        "Were an intelligent, determined scholar to set herself the task of sifting through the last thousand years of Western culture's literary output, would she be able to discern a "historical moment when something changed in the way women's love was experienced and interpreted"? The short answer is no, not really. The longer answer is Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature, by the novelist, playwright and literary critic Emma Donoghue. . . Donoghue's adroit commentary, along with her chronologically organized bibliography, makes Inseparable necessary for scholars and enlightening and often amusing for anyone else."

      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "[Inseparable is a] thorough, scholarly, and consistently entertaining tour through Western literature . . . a fresh interpretive literary investigation of lesbian love stories. . ."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: "Indispensable work. . ."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 1, 2010
        “The past is a wild party; check your preconceptions at the door,” warns British literary historian and novelist Donoghue (Slammerkin
        ) in her comprehensive catalogue of a thousand years of Western literature. “n Western culture passion between women is always a big deal, whether presented as glorious or shameful, angelic or monstrous,” she claims. These passions are not always, strictly speaking, lesbian, Donoghue says, as she sorts them into categories (e.g., cross-dressing and the resulting “ 'accident' of same-sex desire' ”; women friends who remain inseparable despite all obstacles). She links them to historical developments and deciphers their sometimes obscure language. “Morbid,” for example, was often a code word for “lesbian” in the 19th century. Delivering on her promise of a wild party, Donoghue reads Clarissa
        as a rivalry between Lovelace and Anna for Clarissa's heart; she considers Jane Eyre
        as an early schoolgirl novel (note Jane's crush on her schoolmate Helen), whose form would be adapted by early lesbian coming-out novels. With her excellent reading list, readers can test for themselves the “unexpected continuity” Donoghue finds in the presence of passion between women in Western literature. 19 photos.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2010
        Donoghue ("Slammerkin"), a prolific writer of fiction and literary history, spent over 12 years on this indispensable work, examining desire between women characters found mainly in English, French, and other Western literary works that span the Middle Ages to modern times. She analyzes numerous titles as diverse as Shakespeare's "As You Like It", Diderot's "La Religieuse", Dickens's "Little Dorrit", and 20th-century pulp fiction. She divides her analysis into six chapters inspired by the popular plot motifs created when representing attraction between women: "travesties," "inseparables," "rivals," "monsters," "detection," and "out." The literature discussed here portrays female-female desire but with great variation. The chapter on monsters, for example, demonstrates how negatively this type of desire was often depicted, while the "coming out" chapter highlights how this depiction has changed in the past 40 years. Donoghue also acknowledges the few works that anticipated societal transformations and tolerance decades before they occurred. VERDICT For all readers interested in this subject and GLBT, women's studies, and Western literature scholars.Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware Cty. Community Coll., Media, PA

        Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        April 1, 2010
        Spanning centuries and genres, literary critic and novelist Donoghues thorough, scholarly, and consistently entertaining tour through Western literature seeking different approaches to stories about women who love women establishes a family tree of lesbian motifs found in everything from medieval romances to Shakespeare to Victorian novels to mysteries. She cites six intriguing thematic categories: gender-bending disguise plots, variations on like seeks like or birds of a feather, rivals and conflicts, cautionary tales (some featuring the lesbian sex fiend), narratives shaped by homoeroticism and the discovery of a crime, and the quest for self-knowledge via the coming-out story, which dominates the contemporary eras. With photographs, suggested readings, and other auxiliary materials, Donoghues fresh interpretative literary investigation of lesbian love stories is ensured a place in special and general collections.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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From a writer of astonishing versatility and erudition, the much-admired literary critic, novelist, short-story writer, and scholar (“Dazzling”—The Washington Post; “One of those rare writers who seems to be able to work on any register, any time, any atmosphere, and make it her own” —The Observer), a book that explores the little-known literary tradition of love between women in Western literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Charlotte Brontë, Dickens, Agatha Christie, and many more.
Emma Donoghue brings to bear all her knowledge and grasp to examine how desire between women in English literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. Donoghue looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the “unspeakable subject,” examining whether such desire between women is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil,...
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awards
      • source: American Library Association
      • value: Stonewall Book Award - Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award
subtitle
Desire Between Women in Literature
publisher
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group