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andy hoffman <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 18 Aug 1994 10:25:24 EDT
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About Susy and Louise: Susy herself regarded her relationship with Louise
Brownell extraordinary, as her letters to Louise and to Clara between 1892
1896 show.  It seems clear that we have only a partial view of the
 between the women - half of the correspondence between them and severely
edited letters between the sisters.  The give-away about the nature of the
friendship between Susy and Louise isn't the seemingly obvious stuff about
sleeping together and kissing and passionate love, but that during the years
 Europe when Susy wrote Louise most regularly, years during which she met an
array of fascinating and notable people, she chose to write in detail only
about the plainly homosexual.  I remember several years ago speaking to my
sister as I headed out the door to a Melissa Etheridge concert.  My sister
  "She's gay, you know."  I didn't, but wondered how she did, five years
 Etheridge came out.  "There's a network," she told me.  I suspect the
has always existed, and that Susy wrote Louise about women artists making a
loving home together because she imagined that with Louise.  How much Sam
Livy knew about Susy's relationship seems an open question, but since Livy
spent close to a month with Susy at Bryn Mawr in the Spring of 1891, likely
Livy knew everything.  The way Sam and Livy dragged Susy around Europe for
healthful bath after another. it is likely that Sam knew too; these baths
often known for their power to quell mental disturbances, which is how
inversion' was then regarded.  As to Sam's later letters to Louise Brownell
Saunders, years had passed and lives had changed.  They tell us nothing.
     One further note: Krafft-Ebing, in his ground-breaking and best-selling
_Psychopathia Sexualis_, regarded homosexuality as an inherited mental
deformity.  Susy's death resulted, in Sam's view, from her adherence to the
principals of Mental Science and Christian Science, which kept her from a
doctor until too late.  If Sam knew about Susy's affection for Louise
his encouragement of her pursuit of Mental Science must be seen as the best
cure he could hope for.  My own sense is that Susy pursued Mental Science to
cure herself of this problem. If my conjecture concerning Sam's earlier
homoerotic experience is true, he would blame himself all the more for
death.  Not only his advice, but his genes killed her.  Sad.

Andy Hoffman