Borghild Krane's Følelsers forvirring (1937) [Confused Emotions] – a queer reading of Norway's first lesbian novel

This article presents a queer reading of Borghild Krane's novel Følelsers forvirring (1937) [Confused Emotions]. Using queer strategies this analysis focuses on how the «lesbianism» of the protagonist is constructed and how it is positioned in relation to «heterosexuality». The title of the novel suggests that «lesbianism» is a sexual and gendered «confusion» arising from a heterosexual reality. Thus, the main strategy of the novel is to present an apologetic narrative proving that the individual cannot be held responsible for his/her sexual orientation. The novel presents a twofold strategy in its discussion of «lesbianism», relating this to its two protagonists: Åse maintains a repressive strategy, arguing that restraining her sexuality will benefit both her and society. Her friend Randi develops an extrovert strategy where she wants to live openly as a lesbian and she argues in a gay-lesbian manner, advocating her individual rights. In the heteronormative reality of the novel, only Åse survives, suggesting that abstinence is the only acceptable lesbian sexuality. The article further investigates how contemporary psychoanalytic theory (i.e. psychoanalysis) is a precondition for the «explanation» of homosexuality and lesbianism. Further I present a number of lacunae in the heteronormative matrix of the novel suggesting that it is not entirely heteronormative.

Keywords: Borghild Krane, Følelsers forvirring, queer studies, lesbianism