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Tags: People/Event Tags - Literary Relationships

The purpose of tags is to make information relatively easy to find. The topics covered under “people/event tags” are historical persons, authors, written works, and other specific events, organizations, or works that are the subject of the research and publications covered by the Project. This essay is intended to explain briefly how the “people/event” tags are being used.

The second purpose is to provide a tag list that the visitor can use to explore the site. The number of tags used in the project, and the organization into four different categories, doesn’t lend itself to a traditional tag-cloud. The Place and Time Period tags each have a single essay. The Event/Person and Misc. Tags will be covered in thematic groups in multiple essays due to the larger number. I’m planning six essays for the People/Event Tags, each covering a general category with several subcategories.

  • Non-Fiction Sources and General Authors
  • Historic Crossdressing and Passing/Transgender People
  • Historic People Relevant for Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Literary Examples of Crossdressing or Gender Disguise
  • Literary Examples of Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
  • Poetry Expressing Romantic or Sexual Relationships

This present essay covers the fifth category and includes the following:

  • Literary Innuendo and Flirtation
  • Literary Sexual Education
  • Literary Predatory Erotics
  • Literary Passionate Friendship
  • Literary Same-Sex Love

Obviously these categories are quite fuzzy at the edges, and I've classified individual people according to what seems the most noteworthy aspect of their lives. Every story is far more complex than a single classification. These are only for the purposes of exploring general themes.

Literary Innuendo and Flirtation

The examples in this group focus less on genuine desire between women (even in cases where gender disguise is involved) but on those where the possibility of genuine desire is acknowledged by a pretense of it or sly references. These examples include scenarios where that possibility is recognized only by the audience of the work, not by the characters within it.

Literary Sexual Education

This is a genre that allowed the author both to write explicitly (and often pornographically) about sexual encounters between women while still discounting the importance of the relationship. In these works, one woman sexually initiates another with the excuse that she is being prepared for sexual relations with men.

  • Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (John Cleland) - 18th century English novel in which one woman sexually initiates another to prepare her for work as a (heterosexual) prostitute.
  • Ragionamenti (Pietro Aretino) - 16th century Italian sexual “dialogues” that include sexual activity between women.
  • Satyra Sotadica (Johannes Meursius) -  Fictitious original source for the French L’Academie des Dames (attr. Nicolas Chorier). The Satyra Sotadica was, in turn, alleged to be a translation of an original Spanish work by a woman (Luisa Sigea de Velasco). I’ve listed this title separately as some works cite it rather than Chorier’s work (q.v.).
  • The Academy of Women (L'Academie des dames) (Nicolas Chorier) -  17th century French pornographic novel presenting one woman’s sexual initiation by another and including sex between women as part of a wide variety of sexual encounters. Purported to be a translation of a Latin work Satyra Sotadica but this has been demonstrated to be fictitious. Chorier’s authorship is attributed but uncertain.
  • The Spanish Bawd (Celestina) (James Mabbe) - 17th century English play (based on a Spanish original) in which a woman recruits another for prostitution by flattery, flirtation, and sexual initiation.
  • Thérèse the Philosophe (Jean-Baptiste de Boyer) - 18th century French novel involving the seduction of one woman by another to recruit her for prostitution.
  • Women Beware Women (Thomas Middleton) - 17th century English play involving the motif of a woman seducing another woman into prostitution.

Literary Predatory Erotics

I've taken this label from Denise Walen's discussions. It includes non-consensual relationships, cases where a woman initiates erotic contact (or pretends to) in order to further the interests of a male character, and cases where the lesbian character is portrayed as literally monstrous.

Literary Passionate Friendship

This category covers literary characters who are portrayed as being in intense romantic friendships with other women where there is no overt erotic component and typically where they are not living as a committed couple.

Literary Same-Sex Love

The stories in this group involve love between women along a broad range of natures and intensities, from the platonic to the overtly sexual. The distinction between this grouping and the Passionate Friendship grouping is an understanding by the characters that their love is equivalent to heterosexual love, both in nature and importance.