Orlando as a Woman

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Desiring WomenDesiring Women:  The Partnership of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West
by Karyn Z. Sproles
University of Toronto Press. 166 pages, $29.95 (paper)

 

WITH DESIRING WOMEN, Karyn Z. Sproles adds to the large volume of criticism and analysis of Virginia Woolf’s work. Sproles’ focus is on Woolf’s relationship with Vita Sackville-West (1892–1962), an English poet and novelist with whom she had an affair in the late 1920’s. Her book explores the ways that both authors struggled to represent their desire for one another and to resist the social pressures that would force them to renounce their passion for each other. Evidence of their erotic desire can be found in the books they wrote and published during the most intense portion of their physical and emotional relationship, in which their influence on one and other was profound. Sproles invites us to integrate the two women’s sexuality with their published work (text and context) and regard desire as something greater than sexual desire alone, as something bound up with language—a language that then (and to a certain extent even now) does not accommodate erotic affections between two women.

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