Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian by Sharon Marcus

By Sharon Marcus

Girls in Victorian England wore jewellery made of each one other's hair and wrote poems celebrating a long time of friendship. They pored over magazines that defined the harmful pleasures of corporal punishment. a number of had sexual relationships with one another, exchanged earrings and vows, willed one another estate, and lived jointly in long term partnerships defined as marriages. yet, as Sharon Marcus exhibits, those girls weren't noticeable as gender outlaws. Their wishes have been fanned by way of shopper tradition, and their friendships and unions have been accredited or even inspired through relatives, society, and church. faraway from being sexless angels outlined merely by way of male wishes, Victorian ladies overtly loved taking a look at or even dominating different girls. Their friendships helped detect the perfect of companionate love among women and men celebrated through novels, and their unions encouraged politicians and social thinkers to reform marriage law.

via an in depth exam of literature, memoirs, letters, family magazines, and political debates, Marcus finds how relationships among ladies have been a very important section of femininity. Deeply researched, powerfully argued, and choked with unique readings of ordinary and stunning assets, Between Women overturns every little thing we notion we knew approximately Victorian ladies and the background of marriage and kin lifestyles. It bargains a brand new paradigm for theorizing gender and sexuality--not simply within the Victorian interval, yet in our own.

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Extra info for Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England

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I had started writing prose and had an adoring readership. I was enjoying the recognition. I wanted it to grow. I worked very hard. The girls needed me. And I had many friends. Life was treating me well and I had no time to feel lonely. Here we were, three generations of single women living under one roof. A widow, a divorcee and two unmarried girls. But the oppressive shadow of Narayani was not over us. Mother, incidentally, had become bedridden after her nervous breakdown, and never quite recovered from it.

The insistence on sub-caste, language, religion as well as the other taboos reduced options severely for a community that was itself pretty small. As a result, some of my older cousins remained unmarried till their late 20s. The eldest of Jethamashay’s unmarried daughters, Mejdi (second-eldest sister), was not goodlooking. She had to repeatedly face the terrible custom of meye dekha14 before any negotiations could be finalised. The next sister, who was far better looking and had also had more formal education, got married earlier.

And both of us had been named by Tagore, if that is any indication of social status. After the engagement party we went off to Wales together for a few days and sent ecstatic postcards to our friends and family. On our return to Cambridge, where Amartya was a Prize Fellow at Trinity, we found a telegram waiting. It was from my mother: ‘Do not send postcards. Enjoy yourselves. Blessings. ’ Only then it struck us that we were not only committing a shameful, sinful act, but also advertising it! THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS 35 Next summer we came back to Calcutta and got married.

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