‘The Well of Loneliness’ by Radclyffe Hall

7 Jun

I bought this book off Ebay because I couldn’t find a copy on amazon.de with a decent price so I looked at Ebay and found one very cheap and in a good condition too. ‘The Well of Loneliness‘ was published in 1928 and almost immediately banned on publication in England because it is a lesbian novel.

Nowadays it says so right on the cover (well mine does): ‘The bible of lesbianism’ or at least that’s what the Irish Times called it some time ago. I understand that this must have been a great shocker in the 20s but reading this book in 2012, it’s not shocking in the least. The protagonist, Stephen Gordon (her father and mother had wished for a boy), and the two women she was with during the whole book never do more than kiss. Well, Stephen and her later lover Mary share a bed but more is not revealed.

I didn’t like the beginning and the end of the book. It starts very early in Stephen’s childhood and I guess it is necessary to explain that she always felt odd and all but for me, there was just a bit to much time spent in childhood. Then the end was too dramatic for my taste and I was glad to have it over with already.

I’m not sure if this can still be properly be called the bible of lesbianism because things have changed a lot since then and also not at all. Sounds confusing? Let me try to elaborate.

A lot of gay people don’t live in hiding anymore, not like they had to 100 years ago. But then again there are still so many people that simply fail to accept that gay’s aren’t gay by choice but because it is who they are. Why would anyone go on and make their life harder as it needs to be? Exactly!

Also Stephen refers to herself as in invert and until I just looked it up on Wikipedia, I thought she was talking more of a transgender situation then of referring to her lesbianism. According to Wikipedia it’s the latter one although I saw it the other way. The reason is, Stephen wears ties and suits, she herself more associates with the male gender on a whole. I’m aware that lesbians come in all shapes and forms but then again, you can look like Portia de Rossi and be gay, too.

All in all this was a good read but a bit lengthy at some points. Unlike ‘Jane Eyre’ or ‘Wuthering Heights’ and books like that, ‘The Well of Loneliness’ in my opinion is a bit dusty.

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