Homoerotics of Influence: Eudora Welty Romances Virginia Woolf

Shameem BlackStanford University
Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring 2003), 149-171

This article reminds us that in many stories of lesbian self-knowledge, the image of a young woman reading emerges as a foundation parable, an icon of individual question, and it also recognizes the difference this story of desire can make when reapplied to the question of literary influence. Far from the staid bequest of a father’s set of ideas to his son’s corpus, far also from the turbulent angst of sons at war with their heavy-weight fathers, this essay represents influence as a daughter’s dual erotic desire for and questioning of a mother’s story of desire. The essay conducts a detailed inquiry into the erotic relationship between Virginia Woolf’s stories in “Moments of Being: ‘Slater’s Pins have No Points’” (1928) and Eudora Welty’s stories “June Recital” and “Music from Spain” (both written and published from 1946 to 1949). At the same time, however, the essay argues for each of these stories as a questioning text rather than as a lesbian text, for in addition to explaining myriad forms of heterosexual connection as well as sounding homoerotic notes, Welty’s stories imagine the power of homoerotic desire as intimately tied to, and in some respects created by, the relationship between female eroticism and traditionally masculine classical art.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]