cover image Chloe Plus Olivia: 2an Anthology of Lesbian and Bisexual Literature from the 17th Century to Th

Chloe Plus Olivia: 2an Anthology of Lesbian and Bisexual Literature from the 17th Century to Th

Lillian Faderman. Viking Books, $29.95 (848pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84638-2

This hefty assemblage of poetry, fiction, journals and correspondence from more than 75 women and men charts the evolution of the lesbian psyche and lesbian fictional characters through four centuries. Grouping her material into six sections, Faderman ( Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers ) first examines the concept of romantic friendship between women, as in Christina Rossetti's ``Goblin Market.'' She acknowledges the importance of male thought on perceptions of lesbianism, using case studies by Krafft-Ebing and Freud; literary examples include Radclyffe Hall's correspondence, Vita Sackville-West's journals and a Willa Cather story. The most entertaining section explores the ``carnivorous flowers,'' literature of exotic and evil lesbians. Sheridan Le Fanu's 1872 lesbian vampire novella, ``Carmilla,'' is juxtaposed against an excerpt from Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories . The book's fourth part examines the literature of lesbian encoding, created by women who hid their sexual thoughts in the voices of male characters or with ``bearded'' pronouns: authors included under this rubric are Gertrude Stein, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, H.D., Carson McCullers, May Sarton and Jane Bowles. The next section charts the rise of the lesbian feminist voice in the '60s and '70s and features pieces by Rita Mae Brown and Joanna Russ. Sarah Schulman's witty ``The Penis Story'' highlights the final section, in which Faderman charts the course of ``post-lesbian-feminist literature'' into more explicitly sexual territory, with many pieces from minority writers. Faderman's notes are indispensable. There will be debate over the choice of selections, however; Faderman admits that many of her chosen authors wouldn't have considered themselves lesbian. (July)