cover image Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women

Sapphistries: A Global History of Love Between Women

Leila J. Rupp, . . New York Univ., $29.95 (303pp) ISBN 978-0-8147-7592-9

In this ambitious history of love, desire and sex between women, Rupp (A Desired Past ) traces a path from antiquity to the present day, from tales of the Amazons, pirates (and possible lovers) Anne Bonny and Mary Read, communities of Montenegrin and Albanian “sworn virgins” and 1920s Berlin nightlife to the emergence of lesbian feminism in the 1970s and modern-day Thai “toms” (masculine women) and “dees” (the women who love them). She explores why studies in homosexuality have been so preoccupied with same-sex love between men and launches an investigation into the female counterpart—its penalties, manifestations, artistic depictions and the public and private life of its participants. The narrative shines when Rupp describes love between women in its many forms, whether innocent (the schoolgirl “raves” of early 20th-century England) or romantic (intense “romantic friendships” throughout the Western world) or outright erotic. With acute cultural sensitivity and a panoramic scope stretching from early Native American societies to contemporary India, Rupp delivers an academically rigorous and brilliantly told history. (Dec.)