The Lesbian Body

Wittig, Monique

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: Jan-28-1997


The Lesbian Body has been called a lesbian Song of Songs. It is a sensual, image-rich picture of one (or, perhaps, many) lesbian affairs. The images are rich in anatomical detail, even employing medical language to describe the lover's body.


Wittig re-imagines the act of love, the boundaries of the body, and masculine language. The lovers literally take apart each other's bodies as an act of love: "I see your bones covered with flesh the iliacs the kneecaps the shoulders. I remove the muscles . . . I take each one between my fingers the long muscles the round muscles the short muscles . . . . " (31).

Their love-making is like an anatomy class and encourages the reader to discover the erotic beauty of the entire body, inside and out. Every personal pronoun in the book is "split." In French, for example, je became j/e and tu, t/u. The English translators put I in italics and write m/y to achieve a similar effect. Wittig's point is that no person is a coherent, self-sustaining element. We are all internally divided and made up of many dissimilar characteristics.


Translated by David Le Vay.



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