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LHMP #366 Thomas 2015 Lesbian Postmortem at the Fin de Siècle

Full citation: 

Thomas, Kate. 2015. “Lesbian Postmortem at the Fin de Siècle” in The Cambridge Companion to Lesbian Literature, edited by Jodie Medd. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 978-1-107-66343-5

Thomas, Kate. Lesbian Postmortem at the Fin de Siècle.

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This chapter begins with a tour through the complex inter-connectedness of lesbian writers in the late 19th century. As a community they were not only aware of each others’ works and themes, but promoted each other, wrote about and to each other, and often loved each other, whether requited or not.

The chapter's discussion focuses (perhaps oddly) on the gothic fascination with death that is so often associated with Victorian sensibility in general. There is a discussion of how lesbian identity in literature of the era is most often elusive "apparitional” to use the term Terry Castle applies – tying this analysis back to the fascination with death.

Overall, this chapter focuses on a narrow range of writers, and on a narrow range of subject matter, and on a thematic exploration of that filtered selection, rather than being a study guide to the full range of “lesbian literature” at the turn of the 20th century.

Since the previous chapter focused on the “long 18th century” and this one picks up only at the very end of the 19th, there is a gap in coverage that, for example, excludes the majority of the French decadent movement, the Parisian Sapphic revival, and any of the Victorian writers who were not fascinated by themes of death.

(Note: I have not added tags for specific literary works or authors as the article is more of a catalog than an analysis.)

Time period: 

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