Lillian Essay

10060 Words41 Pages
The Lie with the Ounce of Truth: Lillian Hellman’s Bisexual Fantasies Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio, Ph. D. Associate Professor University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. She is the author of The “Weak” Subject: On Modernity, Eros, and Women’s Playwriting (Associated University Presses, 1998), a comparative theory of women’s erotic desires and contributions to modern drama. Her numerous articles on women’s writing and relatedness have appeared in several refereed journals. In 1995-97 she co-coordinated the Bisexual Forum of San Diego. Her most recent article, “Grammars of Touch: Physical, Spiritual, and Erotic Bodies in Massage Therapy,” has appeared in Consciousness, Literature, and the Arts (April 2002). She is currently working on a memoir and on a book on bisexuality, health, feminism, ecology, and holism. She can be reached at PO Box 1941, Mayaguez, PR 00681-1941 (USA); home phone (787) 254 6374; email Abstract This article focuses on the bisexual fantasies of an important American playwright and memoirist of the mid twentieth century, Lillian Hellman. It analyzes the two feminist staples of her career, the 1934 Broadway success, The Children’s Hour, and the short story “Julia” contained in her second memoir (1973), which in 1976 was turned into a film starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave. The argument is that both works are organized around a bisexual triangle of two women and one man, with one woman positioned as a bisexual, the other as a lesbian. The woman positioned as a bisexual is the autobiographical character, who understands her position as opportunistic yet chooses survival. The other woman has a superior moral courage but succumbs to compulsory heterosexuality. The
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