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Your John: The Love Letters of Radclyffe Hall (Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life & Literature) [Paperback]

Joanne Glasgow
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 1, 1999 0814731252 978-0814731253

"Passionate and revealing love letters from the iconic lesbian novelist . . . Radclyffe Hall is getting a fresh look. . . . Glasgow has chosen these letters well and provides helpful context."
--Kirkus Review

"Many assumptions have been made about the degree to which Radclyffe Hall's lesbian classic, The Well of Loneliness, may be autobiographical. Your John dismisses such notions. This exhaustive collection of letters written between 1934 and 1942 to Evguenia Souline, a White Russian émigré with whom Hall fell deeply in love are detailed, intimate records of Hall's personal life and convictions. . . . the collection is a heart-wrenching record of how politics, money, and geography converged to undermine these women's dreams."
--Publisher's Weekly

This landmark book represents the first publication of original writing by Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness, in over 50 years.

One of the most famous and influential lesbian novelists of the twentieth century, Hall became a cause clbre in 1928, upon the publication of her novel The Well of Loneliness, when the British government brought action on behalf of the Crown to declare the book obscene. Probably the most widely read lesbian novel ever written, the book has been continuously in print since its first publication and remains to this day an important part of the literary landscape.

Expertly deciphered and edited by Hall scholar and biographer Joanne Glasgow, Your John is a selection of Hall's love letters to Evguenia Souline, a White Russian èmigrè with whom Hall fell completely and passionately in love in the summer of 1934. Written between this first meeting and the onset of Hall's last illness in 1942, these letters detail Hall's growing obsession, the pain to her life partner Una Troubridge of this betrayal, and the poignant hopelessness of a happy resolution for any of the three women. It was ultimately this relationship, Glasgow argues, which tragically precipitated the decline in Hall's creative work and her health. The letters also provide important new information about her views on lesbianism and take us well beyond the artistic limits she imposed on the characters in The Well of Loneliness. They shed light on her views on religion, politics, war, and the literary and artistic scene. Illuminating both the nature of her relationships and her views on the current politics of the time, Your John will greatly extend the range of our knowledge about Radclyffe Hall.


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1934, after 20 years of a mostly monogamous relationship with Una Troubridge, Radclyffe Hall, author of the notorious lesbian classic The Well of Loneliness, fell in love with someone else. Evguenia Souline, a poor, friendless, Russian exile living in Europe, had 30 years to Hall's 54. To Hall, Souline was the picture of a virgin maiden in distress. Hall's obsessive relationship with Souline, Joanne Glasgow argues in her introduction, precipitated the author's creative and physical decline. These letters to Souline, written between 1934 and 1942, the year Hall died, contain Hall's ideas about the origins of homosexuality, the obligations of marriage and passion, political opinions, and ideas about art. Perhaps most poignantly, they are records of the daily, sometimes hourly, fluctuations of a nervous lover's anxieties and desires. The Radclyffe Hall of these letters is a flawed, vulnerable, utterly human woman who passes through romantic obsession to avuncular concern for a young charge she met late in life. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Many assumptions have been made about the degree to which Radclyffe Hall's lesbian classic, The Well of Loneliness, may be autobiographical. Your John dismisses all such notions. This exhaustive collection of letters written between 1934 and 1942 to Evguenia Souline, a White Russian emigre with whom Hall fell deeply in love are detailed, intimate records of Hall's personal life and convictions (only one of Souline's letters survives). As Glasgow notes in her excellent introduction, the love affair between Hall and Souline started during Hall's relationship with Una, Lady Troubridge, which lasted from 1915 until Hall's death in 1943. Hall had a deep commitment and sense of obligation toward Lady Troubridge and never imagined living without her. But as the letters show, the degree of emotional stress in the daily lives of all three women as they tried to accommodate the situation was great. Hall comes across as at once infinitely romantic and oddly practical. She praised Souline constantly, questioned her loyalty and fussed endlessly over her well-being. However, these letters chronicle much more than Hall's obsessive love for Souline. Hall's views on homosexuality turn out to be far more advanced than any reading of The Well might suggest. Her knowledge of current events, her devotion to her writing and her emotional and fiscal generosity toward Souline combine to paint a portrait of a devoted, passionate writer with an unquenchable thirst for love. There is nothing romantic about this collection, however, as Hall's relationship with Souline seems to have been impossible from the beginning. If Hall's neurotic tone is sometimes grating, the collection is still a heart-wrenching record of how politics, money, and geography converged to undermine these women's dreams.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Cutting Edge: Lesbian Life & Literature
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: NYU Press (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814731252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814731253
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,385,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battle between love and devotion March 18, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This book gave much insight into the life of Radclyffe Hall, and how her mind worked. A battle between her love for Souline, a nurse, and her love for her partner of many years, Una, is very apparent in Radclyffe's letters to Souline. She refused to leave Una, who had been faithful and supportive of her for years, but loved Souline and wanted to spend more time with her. She loved Souline dearly, but was very controlling in doing so, controlling Souline financially and emotionally, sending the two on an emotional roller-coaster that in the end left them both separated.
A wonderful book, with very useful footnotes and background information.
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