Rita Mae Brown's first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle made waves when it was first released in 1973. Its influence has not gone away over the years and is in its seventh printing. While mainstream critics failed to acknowledge Rubyfruit Jungle in their papers, magazines and discussions on contemporary literature, there are plenty of non-mainstream voices to fill the void. While these lesser-known sources are not always credible, and certainly not always accurate they have created a word-of-mouth reputation of the novel and have facilitated its continuous success.
The problem in researching such a novel is that there is very little criticism. One cannot rely on book reviews from unknown magazines and personal websites in order to properly examine secondary sources.
Knowing that there is virtually no critical analysis on Rubyfruit Jungle changes the questions that the novel itself raises, and forces one to examine why this novel was not worthy of discussion. There could be several answers to this mystery, the most obvious being that it was written by and is about a lesbian. America has never fully allowed people to "come out" without reprimand and up until the time of this novel, the only fiction that focused on lesbians emphasized their shame and grief over their sexual identity.
The idea that Rubyfruit Jungle has not been looked at in academic circles simply because it is a novel about a lesbian who feels no shame or guilt about her sexuality is only part of the problem, it is not the only reason why Brown's first novel is not discussed. While Molly Bolt is a lesbian and proud of it, other lesbians are not so proud of her and what she stands for. Rubyfruit ...
... middle of paper ...
...unity that is still often ignored in literature. Could it be that one must wait until the next millennium in order to find voices in literature that accurately represent the society in which it is portraying?
Brown, Rita Mae. "Book Reviews." Rita Mae Brown Homepage. 2 December 1999.<http://www.ritamaebrown.com/books/rmb.html>.
Brown, Rita Mae. Rubyfruit Jungle. New York: Daughters Publishing Company, 1973.
Fishbein, Leslie. "Rubyfruit Jungle: Lesbianism, Feminism, and Narcissism." International Journal of Women's Studies 7.2 (1984): 155-159.
Innes, Charlotte. "Rita Meter Maid." Los Angeles Times 30 Nov. 1997: 3.
Ward, Carol. Rita Mae Brown. New York: Twain Publishers, 1993.
Webb, Marilyn. "Daughters, Inc.: A Publishing House is Born." Ms. Magazine 2:6 (1974): 37.
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