Emma Donoghue Uncovers the Six Most Perennially Popular Plot Motifs of Attraction Between Women in Literature

Rosalind and Celia -- Henry Nelson O'Neil

In her new book Inseparable: Desire Between Women in Literature (on sale May 25, 2010 from Knopf), Emma Donoghue discusses the six most common recurring girl-on-girl plots in literature. From her introduction:

TRAVESTIES: Cross-dressing (whether by a woman or a man) causes the “accident” of same-sex desire.

INSEPARABLES: Two passionate friends defy the forces trying to part them.

RIVALS: A man and a a woman compete for a woman’s heart.

MONSTERS: A wicked woman tries to seduce and destroy an innocent one.

DETECTION: The discovery of a crime turns out to be the discovery of same-sex desire.

OUT: A woman’s life is changed by the realization that she loves her own sex.

We’re enjoying Donoghue’s book so far. It proceeds from this initial folkloric classification with a balance of erudition and wit and a keen eye for the desire writhing between the lines. More to come.

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