joan y. psmith

my other existence

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Book preview: Emma Donoghue – Inseparable
First published at eurOut.

Emma Donoghue tackles the topic of desire between women in literature in her new book Inseperable: Desire Between Women in Literature.

Emma Donoghue grew up in Dublin and was fortunate enough to get a two-novel contract at the tender age of 23. She's earned her living as a writer ever since. She holds a BA in English and French and wrote her PhD thesis about the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction. Currently she lives in London, Ontario, with her lover and their two children.

Her novels won four awards for lesbian fiction, but she also writes plays, both for theatre and radio.

Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature isn't her first book about lesbian history; her book Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801 was published in 1993.

Donoghue explores how attraction between females is represented in texts from medieval to modern times. She defines six main plot motives which have been employed by many different writers. One of these motives she calls "Travesties" (the famous cross-dressing plotlines), another she calls "Monsters" (the well known "evil lesbian destroys innocent girl" trope).
"A lot of people would say, 'What tradition of lesbian literature? I don't see it.' But there's such a continuity in the actual storylines, I think it's perfectly justifiable to call it a tradition. It's just a bit of a buried one."
Emma Donoghue (
I haven't read the book myself yet (though I've already ordered it), but judging from the reviews it got in The New York Times and Xtra! (a Canadian gay & lesbian news site) it appears to be well researched and indeed well written. The NY Times calls it "necessary for scholars and enlightening and often amusing for anyone else", Xtra! praises that it "reads like good journalism rather than academic textbook".

Emma Donoghue's Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature is on the bookshelves now.

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