Lesley McDowell

Between the Sheets

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The literary critic examines the love lives and career ambitions of some of the twentieth century’s greatest female authors—from Sylvia Plath to Anaïs Nin.
Why did a gifted writer like Sylvia Plath stumble into a marriage that drove her to suicide? Why did Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) want to marry Ezra Pound when she was far more attracted to women? Why did Simone de Beauvoir pimp for Jean-Paul Sartre?
In Between the Sheets, author and feminist scholar Lesley McDowell examines nine famously troubled literary romances to arrive at a provocative insight into the motivations of these and other great female writers. The list of the damages done in each of these sexual relationships is long, but each provokes the same question: would these women have become the writers they became without these relationships?
Delving into their diaries, letters, and journals, McDowell examines the extent to which each woman was prepared to put artistic ambition before personal happiness, and how dependent on their male writing partners they felt themselves to be.
“McDowell . . . has culled incredibly juicy details. With so many affairs and broken hearts, the most surprising thing may be that anything got written in the last 100 years.” —The New York Times Book Review
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440 printed pages
Original publication


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