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Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231074889
ISBN-10: 0231074883
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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
...it and does it again! Here the groundbreaking lesbian historian -- who not only shook up staid academia by legitimizing lesbianism as a valid and important aspect of life deserving of serious study, but who can actually WRITE WELL about it -- presents yet another tour de force.
The woman who has spoken in interviews about her working-class Jewish roots and the fact that as a stripper she worked her way through college to a PhD from Berkeley at the age of 26 (not too shabby a feat in itself) and has three anthologies, four other books on lesbian history *and* a new book on the Hmong immigrant population in America notched into her no doubt still-lissome belt, now takes a keen look at the history of butch/femme emergence, struggle, culture and identity, and the actual *value* of butch/femme to lesbianism.
Faderman -- as would be expected of one with her background, her intellect, and her ongoing literary accomplishments -- is never afraid to tackle any subject, and do it not only with honesty but with a deft, sure touch, a style that has an unusual and very refreshing ability to make the academic not only accessible but enjoyable reading, and an even more unusual ability to empathize and yet remain objective. Never artificial and never superficial, neither apologetic nor smug, Faderman proves that butch/femme was and is just as difficult, wildly funny, complicated, fulfilling, ugly, beautiful, heart-breaking, and filled with both fear and its own gritty courage as is any other lifestyle -- lesbian or not.
I finished `Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers' with a real sense of loss. With this book, I've caught up on my reading of Lillian Faderman's works.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers is a fascinating work that traces the cultural history of lesbianism in the United States -- providing a broad and thorough overview of lesbianism's diversity, its relationship to feminism, and its evolving forms of resistance in relationship to the oppressions of the dominant culture. Perhaps what is most impressive about this book is that while it is an impressively researched and intellectually stimulating piece of scholarship, it is also an extremely engaging read. Faderman draws the reader into lesbian cultural history in a way that is never clinical, but compellingly human--under her treatment, the lesbian subculture emerges in all of its varied complexity, its celebratory subversiveness, as a fascinatingly rich and vibrant culture of historical, political, and sexual significance. This book is a marvelous introduction to lesbian culture and history . . . it is entertaining, empowering, and utterly engaging.
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Format: Paperback
Lillian Faderman has written some of the best works on the lesbian experience throughout the ages, and "Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers" is no exception. She covers every facet of the subculture from the turn of the 20th century to the present day with impeccable scholarship, and her writing is engaging and highly readable. She examines everything from 1950's butch/femme, 70's lesbian feminism, and the resurgence of trendy "lipstick lesbians" with equal attention. This book is a must-have for every queer library, and is an important contribution to the cause of lesbian visiblity.
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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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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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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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