Gypsies and lesbian desire: Vita Sackville-West, Violet Trefusis, and Virginia Woolf



Blair K (2004) Gypsies and lesbian desire: Vita Sackville-West, Violet Trefusis, and Virginia Woolf. Twentieth Century Literature, 50 (2), pp. 141-166.

First paragraph: Long Barn, Knole, Richmond and Bloomsbury. All too familiar and entrapping. Either I am at home, and you are strange; or you are at home, and I am strange; so neither is the real essential person, and confusion results. But in the Basque provinces, among a host of zingaros, we should both be equally strange and equally real. --Sackville-West to Woolf, Letters 54 When Vita Sackville-West tries to persuade Virginia Woolf to run away with the "zingaros," Spanish gypsies, she alludes to a discourse evident both in her earlier relationships with women and in her novels Challenge and Heritage, where gypsies represent liberation, excitement, danger, and the free expression of sexuality. Sackville-West's fantasy of homelessness among the gypsies provides the imagined means for two women lovers to value their estrangement from familiar and familial settings, to make it a virtue, part of their true selves. As my epigraph suggests, to be "strange" is to be "real." Confusion, Sackville-West implies, would vanish in a setting away from the deceptive comforts of home and England, with an alien band who are themselves both estranged from the lovers and identified with them.

Twentieth Century Literature: Volume 50, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2004
PublisherHofstra University

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Professor Kirstie Blair
Professor Kirstie Blair

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities, AH Management and Support Team