An Outer Orlando
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Published in: May-June 2023 issue.


by Selby Wynn Schwartz
Liveright. 272 pages, $25.


ACCORDING TO Selby Wynn Schwartz, the day of the Amazon is here! Writing a Sapphic, feminist novel takes imagination and nerve, and it’s worth noting that this author feels the need to confess that she’s bisexual, as if being 100 percent lesbian feminist is too dangerous for any woman in these times. But this confession does not undermine Schwartz’ imagined and historical Sapphic fantasy. Her experimental novel is a philosophical portrait of woman as creator. The novel’s homocentric text digresses, entangles, and slides down a rabbit hole into the lives of queer women from the 18th through the 20th centuries. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando, After Sappho forces the question of female creativity in literature and art: is it equal in originality to male creativity?

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Cassandra Langer is the author of Romaine Brooks: A Life.