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The Literature of Lesbianism - How did I not stumble across this before?

Monday, February 15, 2016 - 06:45


You never know where you’re going to stumble across some of these books. I found this one in the Half-Price Books in Concord California (my current residence), a venue and location where I ordinarily wouldn’t even bother to check out the single case that houses their entire collection of women’s studies, gender studies, and sexuality (including any LGBTQ fiction they bother to carry). But there it was. Furthermore, it appears that at some point the author inscribed it to somone. (At least, there’s an inscription to someone from a “Terry”. Could be unrelated. On the other hand, Wikipedia claims she lives in SF, so it’s entirely possible.)

Full citation: 

Castle, Terry (ed). 2003. The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall. Columbia University Press, New York. ISBN 0-231-12510-0

Publication summary: 


This is a massive (over 1000 pages) collection of works and excerpts of literature relevant to lesbian history. I’ve broken my coverage up in fractions of centuries that produce very roughly similar numbers of items, rather than according to the organization in the book itself.

Unsurprisingly, the collection is skewed toward the modern: 600 pages of 20th century material (which I have not covered), another 250 from the 19th century. And particularly among the earlier material, the lesbian aspect may be subtextual rather than overt. (For example, it includes an excerpt from the Book of Ruth from the King James translation of the Bible.)


What makes this collection valuable--even to the casual reader--is how much it includes of the 15-18th century material commonly referenced in other publications covered under this project. It's far from exhaustive, but if you want to read through some of the original materials (often in translation) that keep coming up in these entries, this is a useful one-stop shop. Shorter works are included in full, and even longer works have extensive excerpts that provide much more context for the lesbian motifs than can be included in analytic articles.