Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Well of Loneliness

Written by: Radclyffe Hall

First line: Not very far from Upton-on-Severn--between it, in fact, and the Malvern Hills--stands the country seat of the Gordons of Bramley; well-timbered, well-cottaged, well-fenced and well-watered, having, in this latter respect, a stream that forks in exactly the right position to feed two large lakes in the grounds.

Why you should read this book: Heart breaking and achingly human, this book is widely considered the first lesbian novel, although today it's more likely that its protagonist, Stephen Gordon, would probably be considered a trans man, and the word "lesbian" never appears in the book ("invert" being the proper term of the day). Raised in a rough and tumble way by a father who wanted a son, Stephen desires the life of a boy, and then of a man, but is always made to feel an outcast and ridiculed for her mode of dress and action. Despite these trials and the prejudice she faces in her own family and community, Stephen grows up kind, thoughtful, and generally successful, and eventually finds her way to places where her "inversion" is better understood and accepted, although owing to the fact that this book was written almost 90 years ago, it remains tragic in nature and Stephen never truly accepts herself.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're scared to come out.

No comments: