(Im)Possible Subjects: The Appearance and Disappearance of Greek Woman Writer Dora Rosetti Performing Forbidden Lesbian Desire and Identity in “Her Lover” and in “My Friend Mrs Dora Rosetti”

    • Lucca November 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Elisavet Pakis, Independent Scholar, Manchester, UK


    In this paper I explore Dora Rosetti’s (1908-1989) appearance and disappearance as a writer, her inscriptions of lesbian desire and subjectivity, and her remaining fragments of writing and performing a queer self. I draw on Judith Butler’s ‘exclusionary matrix’ of gender, compulsory heterosexuality, identity, bodies and desires to make sense of Rosetti’s disappearing subjectivity. I look at her brief appearance as a writer in the Greek-speaking world in 1929 with her novel Η Ερωμένη της, Her Lover, at her subsequent long-term disappearance alongside her book, and at the resurfacing of the book from the dark in a new publication in 2005. The re-appearance of the book sparked an intense debate and probing in Greek literary circles about the possible identity of the missing writer. I also look at the appearance of personal information and an archive about the writer Rosetti through lesbian activist Eleni Bakopoulou’s meticulous publications and testimonies My Friend Mrs Dora Rosetti, and Paraleipomena Doras Rosetti in Journal Odos Panos (Vol 132, 133). These latter publications are based on Bakopoulou’s personal knowledge of, friendship with, and intimate dialogues and exchanges with the disappeared writer in the latter’s old age about her shadowy life and work. I read Bakopoulou’s important testimony in conjunction with Rosetti’s novel. My focus is on the appearance, disappearance and re-appearance of the lesbian subject and the gaps in the literary archive and history. I also focus on queer feminist bonds and exchanges as central for the queer subject. My argument is about how an ‘exclusionary matrix’ of gender and heterosexuality imposes a condition of prohibition, disappearance and fragmentation on Rosetti’s lesbian literary and personal archive; and how through the fragments of queer desire and identity, and also through queer and feminist friendship and testimony, (im)possible queer selves are performed and emerge.