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LHMP #112d Castle 2003 The Literature of Lesbianism: A Historical Anthology from Ariosto to Stonewall Part 4: 18th Century (first quarter)

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.

Part 4: 18th Century (first quarter)

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There is less segregation of content by the gender of the author in this group. Men continue to translate or emulate the poetry of Sappho, often downplaying but never entirely erasing the homoeroticism. There’s also an example of satirizing a historic individual with crude stereotypes of the predatory “butch” lesbian. While the women continue to write poems of romantic friendship, we also have a social satire envisioning an all-female society, complete with romantic and sexual relationships between women. We also have a European woman’s “insider” description of homoeroticism in single-sex bath houses in Turkey. The anonymous works are once more of mixed nature.

[Mary] Delarivier Manley “The Ladies of the New Cabal” from The New Atalantis (1709) -- Something midway between a satire and eutopian depiction of an all-female society, with extensive discussion of their romantic/erotic adventures.

Joseph Addison Spectator No. 223 (1711) -- A discussion of the poet Sappho and transations of some of her poems, but with emphasis on her supposed suicide over a male lover.

Ambrose Philips translation of Sappho Fragment 31 “Blest as th’Immortal Gods is He” (1711) -- A translation of the poem that retains the homoerotic flavor.

Alexander Pope “Sappho to Phaon” (1712) -- A poem that evokes the Sappho-Phaon incident while not entirely erasing Sappho’s homoerotic reputation.

Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea “Friendship between Ephelia and Ardelia” (1713) -- A poem celebrating romantic female friendship.

Anthony Hamilton from Memoirs of the Life of Gount Grammont (1713) -- An excerpt from a somewhat fictionalized biography, featuring an unflattering portrayal of Mary Hobart who used her position in the household of the Duchess of York to sexually pursue a young woman of that household.

Pauline de Simiane “Madrigal” (1715), “Letter to Madame la Marquise de S[--], On Sending her Tobacco” (1715) -- Poems celebrating romantic female friendship with an erotic tinge.

Mary Wortley Montagu from the Embassy Letters (1716-18) -- Descriptions of lesbian encounters in the women’s baths in Turkey, where her husband was ambassador.

Anonymous “Cloe to Artimesa” (1720) -- A poem favorably comparing love between women to heterosexual relations.

Anonymous Monsieur Thing’s Origin: or Seignor D---o’s Adventures in Britain (1722) -- A pornographic poem about women using dildoes to satisfy each other.

Anonymous from A Supplement to the Onania, or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution (ca. 1725) -- A lesbian encounter from a publication that, while purporting to be a polemic against masturbation, reads more like the letters column from Penthouse.

Time period: 

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