Thursday, June 1, 2017

the last book I ever read (Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, excerpt three)

from Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Megan Marshall:

Elizabeth lived two blocks from Christopher Street, where Bonnie’s Stone Wall Inn advertised itself to those in the know as a bar welcoming lesbians, as female “inverts” were increasingly called, by taking the title of the autobiographical confessions of the pseudonymous Mary Casal for its name. Elizabeth may never have visited the place. She may not have read The Stone Wall, published in 1930. But she had probably heard of the melodramatic tale, one of the first such narratives published in the United States, in which Mary’s “sex desire for woman” leads her to propose marriage to her beloved Juno. After enacting a private wedding ceremony, the two women live happily together in what appears to others to be “an ideal friendship,” supporting themselves in the city as an artist and a schoolteacher: “No one knew of the real union, of our bodies.” Despite years of harmony, Juno strays; recriminations and recombinations with other lovers follow. “When at its best, as was ours for so many years,” Mary writes, “I still believe the love between two women to be the highest type now known. At the same time, I believe that it may lead to the most intense suffering known to woman.”

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