Pilgrimage, Dorothy Richardson's thirteen-volume opus of autobiographical fiction, follows the entire arc of an independent woman's life in early twentieth-century Britain. It is one of the major works of the modernist period; indeed, it is considered by many a classic of modernist literature. In this book, Joanne Winning argues in this book, however, that Richardson’s novels continue to be misunderstood in several important ways. Winning is the first critic to fully explore the issues of lesbian identity in the novels.
Examining primary materials, manuscript drafts, and Richardson's previously unstudied correspondence, Winning demonstrates that Pilgrimage contains a carefully constructed, though concealed, subtext of lesbian desire and sexuality. The Pilgrimage of Dorothy Richardson explores the ways in which Richardson used such cultural forms as sexology, psychoanalysis, and other lesbian and modernist literature of her time to create an intertextual dialogue about lesbian identity. Winning suggests that a sustained reading of lesbian sexuality in Pilgrimage is crucial to a more complete understanding of Richardson's long and sometimes difficult work.
Winning also places Pilgrimage in the context of other works by female modernist writers that record lesbian identity. This approach, Winning suggests, is the first step toward recognizing and defining a literary movement that can be termed "lesbian modernism," as well as toward a deeper understanding of how lesbian modernist writers helped shape modernist literature as a whole.
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Joanne Winning is lecturer in twentieth-century literature at the School of Humanities and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University, London.
"A major contribution to our understanding both of Richardson’s thirteen-novel Pilgrimage series and of the important ways in which women writers helped to shape modernist literature in the twentieth century."—Cyrena Pondrom, University of Wisconsin–Madison
"A subtle and carefully argued account of the encoding of lesbian sexuality in Richardson's multi volume autobiographical novel."—Suzanne Raitt, University of Michigan, author of Vita and Virginia
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