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The Well of Loneliness [Hardcover]

Radclyffe Hall
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 1992
First published in 1928, this timeless portrayal of lesbian love is now a classic. The thinly disguised story of Hall's own life, it was banned outright upon publication and almost ruined her literary career.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Booklist

Hall (1880-1943) was legendary in her own time--or infamous, some might say--for her fifth novel, The Well of Loneliness (1928). The book was banned for obscenity because its main character is a lesbian, and it subsequently became a notorious best-seller, thrusting Hall into a literary rogues' gallery of fame. Cline uses previously unexplored material to create a biography of the now largely forgotten author that portrays the dense interrelationship of her writings, her childhood, and her friends and loves. Hall called herself by three names: Marguerite, the name with which she had been christened and which she hated, given as it was by the mother she despised; John, her chosen name, which she used among her associates; and Radclyffe, her pen name. The three often enigmatic selves these names indicated formed her public and private personae. The roots giving rise to her international lesbian best-seller are traceable to her early adolescent loves as well as her affairs with married sculptor Una Troubridge and many others--matters that Cline presents in a lively and readable style. Whitney Scott --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


'The archetypal lesbian novel, the one whose title, at least, is familiar to everyone' TLS 'The bible of lesbianism' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
NOT VERY FAR FROM Upton-on-Severn - between it, in fact, and the Malvern Hills - stands the country seat of the Gordons of Bramley; well timbered, well cottaged, well fenced and well watered, having, in this latter respect, a stream that forks in exactly t Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good queer literature March 29 2014
By Kate
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well it's a story of Stephan who is named such because her father wanted a boy. It's a story of her coming to terms with her sexuality and eventually falling in love but will her love stand up to the predudices she has to face?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just for lesbians! Aug. 20 2001
I first read this book when I was 12 years old, (during WWII). I was fortunate that my father allowed me to read anything I desired. As a child in the early 1940's I didn't know what a lesbian was and had to ask my father. He explained that they were women who prefered the compamy of other women. I could understand that and it was enough of an explanation for a 12 year old. Over the last 50+ years I have often returned to the book. I am, in fact, on my third copy. I am heterosexual, a widow, mother of four, grandmother of nine. It took me many readings to realize why I identified with the character in the book. It is the relationship between the girl and her parents and not the sexual aspect, that drew me. I reccommend this book to anyone interested in family dynamics. Many of us have experienced loneliness, the feeling of not "fitting in", of not conforming, not measuring up to someone else's ideals and this is why I consider this book timeless. Sure, it is dated both in dialogue and in the experience of homosexuals today but that doesn't negate to feelings expressed in the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Moving May 24 2004
By A Customer
I have just finished reading "The Well Of Loneliness" and have mixed emotions about it.First of all, even though some of its melodramatic prose is definitely outdated, however some parts of the novel appeared to me amazingly contemporary.The character of Dickie West,the brash American aviator sounds very much like the young modern politically active Lesbians of today.As a man, I really sympathized with Stephen even though her sacrifice of Mary to Martin Hallam seemed to me more the action of a martyr than a lover.I thought that the most fascinating aspect of the book was its priceless description of the gay Parisian nightlife of the 1920's.That alone is worth the price of the book .
The book is also permeated with memorable characters like Puddle,Mlle Duphot and the tragic Jamie & Barbara.Also Stephen's relationship with animals from her horse to the dog in Paris was touching.
All in all ,a dated but fascinating and ultimately moving novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dated Classic - worth a read May 2 2004
As a male, hetrosexual, I decided that I should read this classic. I found it slow, but was interested in the way the author portrayed society. I imagine that modern lesbians would be touched, but also annoyed by this dated classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and heart-rending May 9 2001
This novel in to be recommnded not only to lesbians and "inverts." It is to be recommended to all sensitive souls and lovers of beauty and artists and all who feel themselves terribly rejected by mainstream culture. The prose in itself is beautifully written in a manner that few books of any sort are today. If this lovely style is "long-winded," as one reviewer dubbed it, then today's literary culture would do well to open the door and let some air in, regardless of the season! The book that comes closest, oddly, to the style of Hall's masterpiece is the contemporary "straight" Bildungsroman of Thomas Wolfe-Look Homeward, Angel. Hall is more effective, though, in bringing home "the pain of all beauty," and I found myself having to put the bok down several times to clear the salty blur from my eyes, such is its poignancy. Oddly again, the storyline of Hall's book and the plight of Stephen Gordon remind me of nothing so much as Rousseau in his Confessions.-Then again, none of this should really be surprising. All three were sensitiive geniuses who suffered through much of their lives. This book will strike a chord of love in you, if you, like Hall and her protagonist, have ever felt " a soul that wakes up to find itself wandering, unwanted, between the spheres."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and heart-rending May 8 2001
This book is to be recommended not only to the lesbian or "invert," but to all sensitive souls who have felt themselves "outcast from life's feast," to borrow from Joyce. The prose itself is rich and beautiful as few books are today, and if this style is long winded as one reviwer has dubbed it, then modern literary culture needs to open its doors to let in some fresh air, regardless of the season. This style of this book, oddly, resembles more than anything that of the contemporary "straight" Bildungsroman by Thomas Wolfe-Look Homeward, Angel. But Hall is more effective at bringing home "the pain of all beauty" and I found myself laying the book down several times to wipe the salty blur from my eyes, such is its poignancy. The storyline and character, oddly again, of Hall's book and of her protagonist Stephen Gordon remind me of nothing so much as Rousseau in his Confessions. Yet, these similarities should not be surprising after all. All three were sensitive geniuses who suffered much through their own spiritual tenderness.-This book is for all who have felt, like Hall and Stephen, " a soul that wakes up to find itself wandering, unwanted, between the spheres."-Or as Shelley would have it in his fragment "To The Moon," "Art thou pale for weariness of climbing heaven and gazing on Earth, wandering companionless?"-It will ease your struggle and perhaps bring you rest.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of great controversy
~I'm not quite sure whether to love of despise this book. It's so wrong in it's truthfulness and yet seems so dellusional. Read more
Published on July 26 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Literarey Joy
Regardless of one's orientation, this work should be read - if for no other reason, to ensure oneself that we all are, most beautifully, outside the mold, whether it's in our... Read more
Published on April 23 2001 by Melanie K Budzienski
5.0 out of 5 stars sisters are doin' it for themselves.
more than merely an amazing piece of literature, _the well of loneliness_ is one of the most significant pieces of history of the twentieth century. Read more
Published on March 8 2001 by Yiannis Psaroudis
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books!
I loved the way this book was written. It is haunting, bittersweet, sad and beautiful. The only thing I did not agree with was Stephen's forced choice at the end of the book. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars It's 1928, you feel queer and you're a woman
With only heterosexuality as a guide, and lacking the modest freedom that male homosexuals were able to enjoy (usually as long as they did their duty by marrying), what is a woman... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2001 by Lesbian Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, if melodramatic
"The Well of Loneliness" may use dated prose, may seem unlike our day and age, and may suffer from being all but overwrought with its message, but at its core it is a... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2001 by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Malvern's Greatest Invert
Radclyffe Hall (1883-1943) spent much of her time in Paris in pursuit of her lover, Evguenia Souline, and in many ways it is very difficult to separate Hall's writing from her own... Read more
Published on Dec 3 2000 by D. Middleton
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