Say it With Your Other Self: Analyzing the Polyphonic Metanarratives of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness

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2022

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Epstein, Skylar

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Radclyffe Hall used the events of Oscar Wilde’s 1891-1895 libel trials to strategically craft the literary strategies she employed in her 1928 novel, The Well of Loneliness. Hall used the arguments made during Wilde’s trial to preemptively address the attacks she expected to weather in her own literary obscenity trial. She used these legal arguments, in addition to the melodramatic, bildungsroman, carnivalesque, and polyphonic frameworks to ensure that The Well of Loneliness saw both creative and political success. Additionally, Hall extended the political afterlife of The Well of Loneliness by inserting her public persona into the novel’s metanarrative. Hall utilized her public persona to complete the Bildungsroman cycle that legal restrictions prevented her from fully realizing within the text of The Well of Loneliness.

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