Yiannitsaros, Chirstopher. 2010. “’I’m scared to death she’ll kill me: Devoted Ladies, feminine monstrosity, and the (lesbian) Gothic Romance” in The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies 8: 41-52.
This is one of several articles that I’m reading for the podcast on lesbian gothic literature. These articles will not necessarily focus on pre-20th century material.
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The author makes a connection between themes prominent in the “coming-out story” (i.e., secrecy, guilt, persecution, and the fragmentation of the self) and the dominant themes of gothic fiction. Similarly there are connections in the reframing of the domestic sphere from a place of love and security to a site of secrets and maltreatment. As a genre rooted in marginality (of taste, politics, and sexuality) he argues that there is an inherent connection between gothic literature and representations of homosexuality.
From this starting point, the author takes a deep dive into Molly Keane’s 1934 novel Devoted Ladies which, he argues, is a parody of the gothic genre, focusing on a lesbian relationship that is simultaneously presented as ordinary and everyday, and as inherently flawed, unequal, and monstrous. Their relationship is eventually disrupted by the “femme” partner’s refocusing on a heterosexual relationship and the murder of the butch partner by a third party who wants to prevent her from interfering.
The connections the author makes with gothic literature primarily involve more recent work, such as Du Maurier’s Rebecca, and similarly recent formulations of the gothic genre.