“Exiles of Love”: Lída Merlínová and the World of the Czech Lesbian
August 6, 2013
by Laurence Georgin
Homosexuality in Czech culture and society is only recently being explored by Czech historians and usually the focus is on the homosexual male. This research project focuses instead on Czech lesbians during the period 1918-1945 and especially the work of the popular (yet now largely unknown writer) Lída Merlínová. In 1929 she published the first lesbian novel in Czech, Exiles of Love (Vyhnanci lásky), in a print run of 4000 which quickly sold out. In the 1930s she went on to write for the homosexual journal Voice of the Sexual Minority, and to publish a series of ‘women’s novels’ and books for adolescent girls.
The purpose of the research project is to analyse with an eye on their portrayal of lesbian identities; to set them against other ‘racier’ novels such as The Third Sex by Gil Sedlačková (1937); and to provide a fuller picture of what it could mean to live the life of a lesbian in interwar Czechoslovakia and in the years of the Nazi Protectorate.
Since all Merlínová’s works were put on the Communist index in 1948, many are missing from Czech libraries, yet her writings are an undiscovered part of the ‘lesbian cannon’ which deserves integration into a new European history of gender and sexuality.
Contact for more information
Name: Prof Mark Cornwall