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Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America Hardcover – October 15, 1991

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231074889 ISBN-10: 0231074883 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Faderman charts the evolution of the concept of the "lesbian" as a 20th-century social construct and shows how love between women, once known at the turn of the century by such terms as "romantic friendship" or "sentimental friendship," came to be called "lesbianism." What was once not a realistic alternative to marriage became possible as women became educated, demanded equal rights, and came out of the home and into the workforce. With increased opportunities for independence, women no longer needed men's financial support to survive and, as a result, love between women was no longer perceived as innocently as it had been in the past. This is a much-needed book and is highly recommended for all public libraries both for its information about the perception and treatment of this particular minority group in America, as well as for its historical and sociological contribution. Its scholarly approach and content also make it a necessity for women's studies collections.
- Patricia Sarles, Mt. Sinai Medical Ctr., New York
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Odd Girls reverberates with the powerful voices of people speaking for themselves.... Faderman empowers her subject; instead of allowing lesbian lifestyles to be defined from the outside, her voice and those of other women transcend destructive stereotypes and misconceptions. Odd Girls offers a lucidly written and moving narrative of lesbian culture and community during its formative years.

(The Village Voice)

Fascinating... poignant and moving... Odd Girls is full of facts and wonderful details that readers may not have encountered, things that are a pleasure to learn and that seem valuable to know.

(Los Angeles Times Book Review)

One has to respect the tenacity of Lillian Faderman for making sense of the evolution of lesbian life in twentieth-century America.... This is a remarkable social history.... Her study attains the depth and evenhandedness of a scholarly classic.

(Susan Brownmiller The Washington Post Book World)

An important and challenging work for lesbians and heterosexuals alike.... Odd Girls is a key work, the point of reference which all subsequent studies of twentieth-century lesbian life in the United States will begin.

(San Francisco Examiner)

Faderman's sweeping, mesmerizing prose accentuates the magnificent scholarship in this definitive account of lesbian life in the past 100 years.... Faderman has combined her talent and experience to accomplish this wonder.

(Barbara Grier Lambda Book Report)

Nothing odd about Odd Girls—it combines clear prose with meticulous research. This book is an important contribution to understanding America and its people in our time.

(Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle)

A grand narrative synthesis of the cultural, social, and political history of lesbian life since the late nineteenth century.... Engaging and deeply moving stories.

(New York Times Book Review)

A splendid, uplifting achievement.

(The Independent)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1st edition (October 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231074883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231074889
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #985,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Lillian Faderman is the author of "My Mother's Wars" (Beacon Press, 2013). She is an internationally known scholar of lesbian history and literature, as well as of ethnic and immigrant history. She is the author of such acclaimed works as To Believe in Woman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers, Surpassing the Love of Men, I Begin My Life All Over, and her memoir Naked in the Promised Land.

Photographer Photo Credit Name: Phyllis Irwin, 2012.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By quiklives on December 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
I first read this book at 16, in the process of searching for an anchor for a newfound identity. I desperately needed some cultural context for my own life, and I was incredibly grateful for this book.

It's a great mix of personal stories and objective history, so that the narrative never gets too dry but still does an excellent job of pulling back to show the bigger picture. It's incredibly well-researched and informative, but also funny and sad and poignant by turn, almost what you would expect from fiction.

The pictures included are amazing in terms of being able to see the march of progress in the faces of real people, as well.

I've re-read it many times since I was a teenager, and it's still fascinating. I keep meaning to read the author's other works, but somehow haven't managed it yet - but my battered old copy of this book has survived numerous moves and oh-god-I-have-to-get-rid-of-some-books moments because I love it so much.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By dan on March 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So impressed with Lillian Faderman. Terrific research and insights into that culture, and the rest of our culture. What this book needs more than anything else is to fill in the 20 year gap between when it was written and today. Thank you Ms Faderman. Wow!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Darlene K. Bogle on May 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Filled with a lot of information about early 20th century lesbian relationships and how so much was hidden because of society ideals. I used it for research.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although slightly outdated as it was published in the early 90s (very minor differences in some terminology) this book is a wonderful compilation of lesbian AND bisexual women's history in the United States. Not only was it a fun read (not totally dry, like some nonfiction) it had tons of primary texts cited. It really goes into depth on all of the combining factors that led to widespread homophobia in the United States too, as well as social dynamics in queer circles in the past. A very interesting read and the photos are a nice addition as well.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By If I was a tree on January 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Much water has passed under the bridge since this book was first published, and it still remains a fascinating read for those interested in "hidden history", in the communities routinely ignored and the people whose lives are skipped over as being culturally or socially insignificant. In this case, it's lesbians who are the focus. Faderman does a fine job, but in her enthusiasm commits the same sins as other historians.

What could be a great resource for American lesbian history is tainted by its constant misrepresentation of what are clear, obvious examples of trans men being described as lesbians, with Faderman absorbing them into lesbian history. In her desire to "reclaim lesbian identity", she denies trans men their own.

No doubt there were women who disguised themselves as male to get jobs, there are examples throughout history. But living full time as male so that even a sexual partner believes you to be male is another thing entirely. But no, in Faderman's eyes they're all lesbians and that's the end of the matter. In her version of history, trans men do not exist. It's cringeworthy stuff for anyone with an ounce of awareness, but a sadly common perspective among some feminists and lesbians, even today. That it happens again and again throughout the book is inexcusable. She has had ample time to revise and correct it, and has failed to do so. Perhaps she needs a broader personal perspective.
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