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am 13. März 2000
i just translated the book into chinese so i guess i did some pretty close reading :). while the novel is undoubtedly a milestone in the history of english literature, lesbian culture, and the battle against censorship, its literary merits leave something to be desired. radclyffe hall's prose is ornate and even over-dramatizing at times, and i find the frequent insertion of french phrases and sentences redundant and affected. the situations and emotions are relevant, poignant, and often depicted with insight, but because the mood and the tone of the narrative is so persistently intensive it does tend to get tedious after a while--which can be well before one finishes the book.
it seems quite obvious that stephen gordon, the heroine (or should i say hero?) of the book, would never have questioned the moral conventions and gender roles of her times, had she not been born to be what she was--in short, a male soul trapped inside a female body (though hall, true to her style, never just says so). for she totally identified herself with a (upper-class) society of so-called respectability, honor, refinement, etc., which constitutes a mentality not really, uh, let's say "progressive". while crying out against the outrage against and persecution of lesbians and gays, stephen remained disconcertingly vague in her attitude toward effeminate males (such as the character jonathan brockett), feeling much more at ease with and indeed seeking the acceptance of straight (and presumably manly) men. i'm not exactly saying that it's "reactionary" to long for the very "secure and happy" life of "the normal", but how she--and i wonder if also the author--repeatedly projected heterosexual marriage to be is way too idealized and dangerously so, not pausing for even one moment to reflect on what outrage and persecution that sort of marriage could also and did often turn out to be for perfectly "normal" women. one can't help feeling that she thought everything would've been just so fine, if only and only if she had been a man!
so, while trying not to be anachronistic in my judgment of the novel and the characters in it, i suggest that it be carefully read *in context*, historically and ideologically.
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am 14. November 1997
I was a late-bloomer to Ms.Hall`s novel. I was given the paperback by an "ex" 12 years ago. She said to me as our relationship ended, "Read this Sean! It sounds like your life!" And so I read about the tormented Stephen coming to turns with his/her gender and sexuality. Brought into the world with a silver spoon and cared for by a "favorite" nanny. Never quite fitting in with ones peers and yet having numerous friends of both sexes. A mother who resented her husband`s devotion to you and a sister who fit in perfectly. It could be anyone`s story or no one`s. But it does reflect the times, then and now. If you have ever felt "different" in your life, a round peg trying to fit in a square peg world or are "accepted" as is. This is your novel.
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am 18. April 1999
While I find Hall's prose less than perfect, her take on lesbian life from childhood to adolescence to adulthood is realistic emotionally. It's very easy to relate to Stephen, the main character who must pass all the trials of lesbianhood, including unrequited love and rejection by her mother. I recommend it to anyone who has some time on their hands who wants an inside view into the mind of a lesbian.
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am 10. Januar 1997
Over a half a century ago (how's that again?) this
book informed me of a human trait that I had never
known existed.It might even today be a sensitive
introduction for some who decry,perhaps to the point
of denial,that it does exist.

A correction to your review. The lead characters were
not lesbians, as I recall. They were young men.
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am 29. Oktober 2015
An amazing book full of emotion and heartache. I've cried so much!!! I love the style and the development of the characters. It is one of the best books i've ever read!
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am 14. April 1999
It's well written, great characters, easy to read and it's revolutionary message is timeless. The Well of Loneliness is my favorite. I read it once a year to keep myself alive.
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