Gypsies and Lesbian Desire

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  • Topic: Romani people, Virginia Woolf, Gypsy
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Gypsies and Lesbian Desire: Vita Sackville-West, Violet Trefusis, and Virginia Woolf Author(s): Kirstie Blair Reviewed work(s): Source: Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp. 141-166 Published by: Hofstra University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4149276 . Accessed: 12/03/2013 05:26 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

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Gypsiesand LesbianDesire: Vita Sackville-West,Violet Trefusis, andVirginiaWoolf Kirstie Blair

All Long Barn,Knole, Richmond and Bloomsbury. too familiar and entrapping. Either I am at home, and you are strange; you or are at home, and I am strange; neither is the real essentialperso son, and confusion results. But in the Basqueprovinces,among a host of zingaros, we should both be equallystrangeand equallyreal. 54 --Sackville-West to Woolf, Letters tries Woolf to run away When Vita Sackville-West to persuade Virginia with the "zingaros," she alludes to a discourse evident Spanishgypsies, both in her earlierrelationships with women and in her novels Challenge and Heritage, where gypsiesrepresentliberation,excitement, danger,and the free expressionof sexuality. Sackville-West's fantasyof homelessness the gypsiesprovidesthe imaginedmeansfor two women loversto among value their estrangement from familiarand familialsettings,to make it a to is virtue,part of their true selves.Asmy epigraphsuggests, be "strange" to be "real." Sackville-West would vanishin a setting Confusion, implies, awayfrom the deceptive comforts of home and England,with an alien band who are themselvesboth estrangedfrom the lovers and identified with them. Sackville-West's letter providesone instance of the tantalizingpresence of the gypsy as the antithesis of the "familiarand entrapping" in queer writing by women at the start of the twentieth century.The

Literature 50.2 Twentieth-Century

Summer 2004

141

This content downloaded on Tue, 12 Mar 2013 05:26:27 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Kirstie Blair

texts gypsyin particularhaunts see, gypsy and,aswe shall the Spanish writthrough womenin thisperiod.Shewanders betsveen aboutdesire and evasive, and VioletTrefusis, Woolf,allusive, ings by Sackville-West, tentative coalesce.The and whomfantasies desires around a teasing, figure letter in with the gypsies Sackville-West's to Woolfis an identification that a in undercurrent allthreewriters, tug toward"gypsiness" functions, in whether to Theirallusions gypsies, desire. as I argue, a hintof same-sex formedpartof a private to letters eachotheror in textssuchas Orlando, which gypsyheritage, alleged Sackville-West's around centered discourse In behavior. this, and as served explanation excuseforherunconventional that in interest gypsyculture a thesewritersalso appropriatedpopular between1910and1930weremarked decades in emerged thisperiod.The popular studies, on of by an explosion writings gypsies- anthropological studies thatplaced and folktales, linguistic writing, travel poetry, fiction, nature, primitivism, on of at thegypsy the center commentaries exoticism, for lettersto Sackville-West, Trefusis's By and sexuality, savagery. setting we in instance, the contextof thesewritings, can see not only how the to was imageof the gypsy reworked serveasanimageof...
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