by Pericles Lewis

Virginia Woolf often puzzled about the possibility of a literature that would treat sexuality and especially the sexual life of women frankly, but her own works discuss sex rather indirectly. She wrote one of her lighter but particularly enjoyable novels, Orlando (1928), about a man who becomes a woman (and lives for over three hundred years), thus updating the myth of Tiresias, the man who became a woman. Tiresias was a central figure in modernist attempts to explore sexual identity, playing a notable role in Eliot’s The Waste Land, Pound’s Cantos (1919-1970), and the first surrealist play, Guillaume Apollinaire’s The Breasts of Tiresias (1917).[1]

  1. ↑ This page has been adapted from Pericles Lewis’s Cambridge Introduction to Modernism (Cambridge UP, 2007), p. 30.