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Surpassing the love of men : Romantic…

Surpassing the love of men : Romantic friendship and love between women… (1981)

by Lillian Faderman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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I certainly took my time in reading this (over a year--oops), so the earlier sections have lost some of their original "oomf." That said, the discussions regarding historical relationships between women, specifically the idea of the romantic friendships, was fascinating and easily the best parts of the entire book. They were informative and well-researched, and full of information and ideas I'd never heard or thought of before.

In contrast, the latter parts that discuss second-wave feminism were odd and uncomfortable to read. There's blatant homo-, trans-, and bi-phobia throughout. It was moderately interesting in terms of learning about ideas that were central to second-wave feminism, but Faderman believed (believes?) that to be a true feminist meant one had to choose lesbianism and had to reject any and all male relationships (...though perhaps not familial relationships with the brothers and fathers? It's difficult to tell).

Overall, I do recommend "Surpassing the Love of Men." It was interesting and informative and, from what I've gleaned, a seminal part of second-wave feminism. However, I do wish I'd skipped, or perhaps just skimmed, the latter sections. ( )
  whatsmacksaid | Sep 21, 2018 |
A classic of feminism.
  AdocentynLibrary | Mar 19, 2015 |
I've been reading this book in bed before going to sleep for a couple of months and at times I've been all set to chuck it out of the window. While I'm sure the book was a significant piece of scholarship in 1981, it does feel more than a little dated now - not the least because we now have more sophisticated theories about gender and sexuality than those that were widespread at the end of the 1970s.

As the subheading indicates, Faderman is primarily interested in romantic friendship and love and often seems to go out of her way to emphasise that women did not have sex until the sexually obsessed twentieth century. I am exaggerating but as this aspect of her analysis kept bugging me all the way through the book, I can't really help it. I'm only a couple of pages into Emma Donoghue's Passions between Women and her approach is markedly different - she does not assume that women were quite as ignorant of the possibilities of love and passion between women as Faderman argues they were.

It was interesting to read this book but I did not get very much out of it. ( )
3 vote mari_reads | Aug 28, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lillian Fadermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mauceri, MichaelDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Your love was wonderful to me, passing the love of women."

David to Jonathan
2 Samuel, I,26
"I assure you, with a love "passing the Love of Men," that I am yours..."

Lucy to Harriot
William Hayley's The Young Widow, 1789
"Davidean friendship, emulation warm
Coy blossoms, perishing in courtly air,
Its vain parade, restraint, and irksome form,
Cold as the ice, tho' with the comets' glare,
By firmness won, by constancy secured,
Ye nobler pleasures, be ye long their meed...."

of Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler
Anna Seward's Poetical Works, 1810
To Phyllis for everything
First words
This book began as a study of Emily Dickinson's love poems and letters to Sue Gilbert, the woman who became her sister-in-law.

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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0688133304, Paperback)

First published in 1981, this feminist classic began modestly as an academic essay on Emily Dickinson's love poems and letters to her future sister-in-law, Sue Gilbert. In her original introduction, Faderman recalled her surprise at finding these records of an erotic attachment between women that showed no evidence of guilt, anxiety, or the need for secrecy. Yet 60 or 70 years after they were written, the original letters had been bowdlerized by a niece of Dickinson's, who clearly found them too shocking for publication. Why, Faderman wondered, was passionate love between women, once almost universally applauded in the Western world, now almost universally condemned? She learned that the love between Dickinson and Gilbert had many precedents, and that it was only in the late 19th century that medical literature and antifeminism combined to rank women who loved women "somewhere," as she puts it bluntly, "between necrophiliacs and those who had sex with chickens." For this new edition, Faderman explains that she has resisted the urge to update her text, hoping that her exploration of romantic friendship, from French libertine literature through the dawn of feminism through the lesbian panic of the 1920s will still serve as "solace and ammunition" for those hoping to find "a usable past." --Regina Marler

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:41 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A classic of its kind, this fascinating cultural history draws on everything from private correspondence to pornography to explore five hundred years of friendship and love between women.Surpassing the love of men throws a new light on shifting theories of female sexuality and the changing status of women over the centuries.… (more)

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