Synopses & Reviews
Emma Donoghue examines how desire between women in English literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. She looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the "unspeakable subject," examining whether same-sex desire is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil, as she excavates a long-obscured tradition of (inseparable) friendship between women, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history. Donoghue explores the writing of Sade, Balzac, Hardy, Wilkie, Sayers, Highsmith and more to reveal the half-dozen contrasting girl-girl plots that have been told and retold over the centuries; the paranormal identities assigned to women who desire other women; the ubiquity of same-sex attraction in crime fiction; and the contemporary narratives of coming out privately and publicly. Inseparable is a revelation of a centuries-old literary tradition and#151; brilliant, amusing, and until now, deliberately overlooked.
"Happily, Donoghue is a critic who doesnand#8217;t fear slumming in the land of potboilers... Donoghueand#8217;s adroit commentary, along with her chronologically organized bibliography, makes Inseparable necessary for scholars and enlightening and often amusing for anyone else." and#150; The New York Times Book Review
"A thorough and fascinating piece of criticism, as satisfying as her fiction" and#150; Now (Toronto)
"Meticulously, even painstakingly researched... an expert and innovative analysis... chock full of interesting information, a needed footnote to the history of Western literature." and#150; Toronto Sun
"A highly enjoyable romp through literary history that reads like good journalism rather than academic textbook... Donoghueand#8217;s great skill is that she remains totally focused on her six plots through an amazingly broad time period... It has the dizzying effect of bringing something thatand#8217;s always been in our shared peripheral vision and#150; hazy and intangible until now and#150; sharply into focus." and#150; Xtra (Toronto)
"As readable as it is rigorous... Whatand#8217;s so refreshing about Inseparable is that, while itand#8217;s clearly the work of a bona fide scholar... it still manages to be both witty and entertaining. The writer is like that favorite college professor who, in her genial unstuffiness, breathes the kind of life into her subject that keeps students riveted from the first word." and#150; Edge
"A thorough, intelligent researcher... a disarming, often funny historian." and#150; San Francisco Chronicle
"Emma Donoghueand#8217;s pedigree as a literary critic, novelist, scholar, and (it should go without saying) passionate reader makes her the perfect tour guide. Equally at home with Ovid and Rita Mae Brown, she is generous with her insights, providing helpful context... Brilliant, insightful, and frequently funny, Inseparable is sure to bring new readers to the world of classic literature." and#150; The Gay and Lesbian Book Review
"Thorough, scholarly and consistently entertaining" and#150; Booklist
"Indispensable" and#150; Library Journal
From a writer of astonishing versatility and erudition, the much-admired literary critic, novelist, short-story writer, and scholar ("Dazzling"The Washington Post
; "One of those rare writers who seems to be able to work on any register, any time, any atmosphere, and make it her own"The Observer
), a book that explores the little-known literary tradition of love between women in Western literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Charlotte Bronte, Dickens, Agatha Christie, and many more.
Emma Donoghue brings to bear all her knowledge and grasp to examine how desire between women in English literature has been portrayed, from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murder stories. Donoghue looks at the work of those writers who have addressed the "unspeakable subject," examining whether such desire between women is freakish or omnipresent, holy or evil, heart-warming or ridiculous as she excavates a long-obscured tradition of (inseparable) friendship between women, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history.
Donoghue writes about the half-dozen contrasting girl-girl plots that have been told and retold over the centuries, metamorphosing from generation to generation. What interests the author are the twists and turns of the plots themselves and how these stories have changed or haven't &mdash over the centuries, rather than how they reflect their time and society.
Donoghue explores the writing of Sade, Diderot, Balzac, Thomas Hardy, H. Rider Haggard, Elizabeth Bowen, and others and the ways in which the woman who desires women has been cast as not quite human, as ghost or vampire.
She writes about the ever-present triangle, found in novels and plays from the last three centuries, in which a woman and man compete for the heroine's love
about how and why same-sex attraction is surprisingly ubiquitous in crime fiction, from the work of Wilkie Collins and Dorothy L. Sayers to that of P. D. James.
Finally, Donoghue looks at the plotline that has dominated writings about desire between women since the later nineteenth century: how a woman's life is turned upside down by the realization that she desires another woman, whether she comes to terms with this discovery privately, "comes out of the closet," or is publicly "outed."
She shows how this narrative pattern has remained popular and how it has taken many forms, in the works of George Moore, Radclyffe Hall, Patricia Highsmith, and Rita Mae Brown, from case-history-style stories and dramas, in and out of the courtroom, to schoolgirl love stories and rebellious picaresques.
A revelation of a centuries-old literary tradition brilliant, amusing, and until now, deliberately overlooked.
Emma Donoghue, consummate scholar and novelist of astonishing originality, examines how desire between women in literature has been portrayedand#151;from schoolgirls and vampires to runaway wives, from cross-dressing knights to contemporary murderesses. Donoghue excavates the long-obscured tradition of friendship between women, one that is surprisingly central to our cultural history. From Chaucer and Shakespeare, Sade, Balzac, Thomas Hardy and Radclyffe Hall to Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith and Sarah Waters, Inseparable is a landmark exploration of love between women in Western literature, and a highly entertaining investigation of the "unspeakable subject."