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Fragments of Desire

Sapphic Fictions in Works by H.D., Judy Grahn, and Monique Wittig


Johanna Dehler

Tracing the influence of Sappho's fragmented literary legacy on three 20th-century women writers - H.D., Judy Grahn, and Monique Wittig - this book discusses Sapphic fiction as a genre that emerged throughout the 20th century. H.D., Grahn, and Wittig represent three movements that have shaped the approach to the sexual subject and her desires: modernism, cultural feminism, and poststructuralism respectively. H.D. responds to Sappho with an imagistic style that resembles Sappho's terse and clipped lines. Grahn recreates the idea of Lesbos as a model for a women-centered society. Wittig, writing from a poststructuralist background, alludes to Sappho in her fierce critique of myth and language. This study draws on recent debates about the history of sexuality, the body, and the construction of the self, and is meant as a contribution to the ongoing debate on how gender is constructed in modernist and postmodernist discourse.
Contents: Sapphism: The Development of a New Genre - H.D.'s Quest for the Gendered Subject, or, the Multiple Layers of Sapphic Modernism - Judy Grahn's House of Women, or, Sappho and Cultural Feminism - Monique Wittig's Desiring-Machines, or, Sapphism's Trojan Horses.