Sarah Parker focuses on the love affair between the Decadent poets Olive Custance and Renée Vivien and the American writer Natalie Barney, arguing that affecting ‘Frenchness’ and writing in French allowed them to articulate their desire for one another.
This paper focuses on the literary productions inspired by the love affair between the Decadent poets Olive Custance, Renée Vivien (née Pauline Tarn), and the American writer Natalie Barney. It draws primarily on Vivien’s roman à clef 'Une Femme m’apparut' (A Woman Appeared to Me, 1904) along with Custance and Barney’s poetry. In analysing these texts, it is concerned primarily with the question: how does Vivien, Barney and Custance’s literary cosmopolitanism (in this case, their writing in – or affection of – ‘Frenchness’) reflect and interact with their expressions of lesbian desire? It also considers to what extent adopting a different language and national identity enabled these women to express a lesbian desire and to envision the possibility of a homoerotic cosmopolitan female community.