Lesbian Empire: Radical Crosswriting in the Twenties
Gay Wachman provides a critical new reading of sexually radical fiction by British women in the years during and after the First World War. She contrasts works by Sylvia Townsend Warner, Virginia Woolf, Rose Allatini, and Evadne Price with more politically and narratively conservative novels by Radclyffe Hall and Clemence Dane. These writers, she states, formed part of an alternative modernist tradition that functioned both within and against the repressive ideology of the British Empire, using fantasy as a means of reshaping and critiquing a world fragmented by war.
Wachman places at the center of this tradition Sylvia Townsend Warner's achievement in undermining the inhibitions that faced women writing about forbidden love. She discusses Warner's use of crosswriting to transpose the otherwise unrepresentable lives of invisible lesbians into narratives about gay men, destabilizing the borders of race, class, and gender and challenging the codes of expression on which imperialist patriarchy and capitalism depended.