9780688037338 / 068803733X

Surpassing the love of men: Romantic friendship and love between women from the Renaissance to the present





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About the book:

First published in 1981, this feminist classic began modestly as an academic essay on Emily Dickinson's love poems and letters to her future sister-in-law, Sue Gilbert. In her original introduction, Faderman recalled her surprise at finding these records of an erotic attachment between women that showed no evidence of guilt, anxiety, or the need for secrecy. Yet 60 or 70 years after they were written, the original letters had been bowdlerized by a niece of Dickinson's, who clearly found them too shocking for publication. Why, Faderman wondered, was passionate love between women, once almost universally applauded in the Western world, now almost universally condemned? She learned that the love between Dickinson and Gilbert had many precedents, and that it was only in the late 19th century that medical literature and antifeminism combined to rank women who loved women "somewhere," as she puts it bluntly, "between necrophiliacs and those who had sex with chickens." For this new edition, Faderman explains that she has resisted the urge to update her text, hoping that her exploration of romantic friendship, from French libertine literature through the dawn of feminism through the lesbian panic of the 1920s will still serve as "solace and ammunition" for those hoping to find "a usable past." --Regina Marler

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