Jane Rule’s fourth book explores lesbianism as portrayed by authors from Gertrude Stein to Colette, from Vita Sackville-West to May Sarton and Willa Cather
Lesbian Images opens with a disclaimer from the author: “This book is not intended to be a comprehensive literary or cultural history of lesbians.” Rather, as Jane Rule goes on to tell us, her goal is to present her own attitudes and measure them against the images of lesbianism as depicted by other female authors. Thus, chapters titled “Gertrude Stein 1874–1946,” “Willa Cather 1876–1947,” and “Ivy Compton-Burnett 1892–1969,” among many others, reveal how the concept of love between women can be filtered through one’s personal experiences and perceptions.
There are also chapters about lesbian myths and morality; the effect of the women’s movement on lesbianism; the inherent conflicts between lesbianism and feminism; how Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness changed fifteen-year-old Rule’s life; and what it means to be labeled a lesbian writer.
At once astute and nonjudgmental, Lesbian Images is a deeply engaging work that sounds a powerful note of hope for the future.
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