By Julie Abraham
"Are women necessary?" asks Julie Abraham during this provocative learn of 20th-century lesbian writing. reading the advance of lesbian writing in English around the twentieth Century, Abraham identifies a shift from this "romance" version to a extra complex "history" version. the good modernists, Woolf and Stein, in addition to the preferred writers of succeeding generations, like Mary Renault, appeared to historic narratives, developing an incredible switch within the means the "lesbian tale" is equipped. the chances in lesbian writing, from the early romance plots via to the post-1960s liberation circulation experiments, are Abraham's geography. inside it, she bargains specified 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
Smudged out something. . had done away with something" (118). Hermione's awakening takes place, instead, during her first meeting with Fayne, when she "came to as from an anesthetic" (61). Inevitably, though, the heterosexual plot creates a crisis in the lesbian narrative it enables. After Fayne, Hermione cannot marry George. But for literary as well as social reasons, the text cannot be concluded by her "marriage" to Fayne. The heterosexual plot H. D. has invoked must end with some form of marriage, some heterosexual relation (or death): Fayne betrays Hermione with George.
The lesson of such references was always that these less immediately identifiable works were "lesbian novels," "like" Hall's work in subject and form. 11 The inception of the postwar pulp paperback industry in the United States in the early 1950s marked the beginning of a third phase in the history of the lesbian novel: writers were solicited to produce romantic melodramas for what was increasingly available and understood as a lucrative market; lesbian novels from the 1920s through the 1940s were republished at an increased pace; and these old and new lesbian novels were all more widely distributed.
But scientific studies will not help: "they will not read medical books. . And what doctor can know the entire truth? " The doctors, all presumably heterosexual, lack the skills of novelists as well as the knowledge of a "normal invert": "The doctors . . cannot hope to bring home the sufferings of millions; only one of ourselves can some day do that" (389-390). This kind of claim to truth within the lesbian novel was, however, supported by medical prefaces. After Havelock Ellis's commendation of The Well for "presenting] in a completely faithful and uncompromising form, one particular aspect of sexual life"—a commendation Hall herself solicited to validate her work—introductory testimonials to the scientific value of the tragic story the reader was about to encounter became commonplace.