Why "Amadis of Gaul" was banned: women liked it

The Spanish novel Amadís de Gaula ought to be famous. Instead, especially outside of Spain, few people besides scholars have even heard of it. I wondered why.

Based medieval tales of chivalry, the book became Europe's first best-seller in the early 1500s, and it inspired a century of popular sequels and spinoffs in seven languages. Miguel de Cervantes satirized these novels a century later in Don Quixote, and that's how I first heard of it. In fact, if it weren't for Quixote, Amadís would be even more obscure.

And yet at one time even illiterate people knew all about Amadís. How did something so popular become so forgotten?

Most literary histories say that due to Quixote's devastating attacks, and due to a decline in the quality of the stories, chivalric novels simply because unfashionable. But after a little research, I don't think so.

First, not all critics agree that the quality fell, although the writing did change. Some authors began to treat the theme of knights and love with realism, others with increasing fantasy. But critics and defenders alike agreed that they were entertaining — and for some moralists, entertaining meant "worthless time-waster." Worst of all, these books were fantasy.

Despite fewer editions of new books and fewer reprints of existing books as the 1500s drew to a close, the books gained more and more critics in the 1600s. No one complains about something unless it is actually happening. People kept reading and even writing the books all across Europe.

But now the readers weren't kings and other very important people: they were increasingly women, especially young women and girls. A few women even wrote chivalric novels. All the books began to include more female protagonists.

That was just too much for moralists: "They are golden pills that, with a layer of delicious entertainment . . . fill hearts with such ideas about love that, serving as example, decay in young women and ruin their honest estate of modesty and sense of shame," wrote Benito Remigio Noydens in 1666.

The Spanish Inquisition targeted the novels. Royal decrees limited and finally outlawed their reprinting. The libraries of noble families quietly disposed of them. In other countries, the books received equal condemnation.

Amadís was banned. It wasn't forgotten; it was expurgated from respectable literary memory.

Stephen King says this about banned books: "Run, don't walk, to the first library or bookstore you can find and read what they are trying to keep out of your eyes because that is exactly what you need to know."

So I am translating Amadis de Gaula into English. Read a new chapter a week at You can also follow as a LiveJournal syndicated feed at

Violence, sex, adventure, sorcery, intrigue, and danger — medieval style. What will it do to you?

Call For Submissions

Nominations are open to January 31, 2009 for short stories to be considered for the 2008 Year’s Best Lesbian Fiction. The anthology will be published as a trade paperback in June 2009.

Story Eligibility: Short stories to 12,500 words, with a lesbian character or theme, first published in an edited market in the 2008 calendar year.
Genres: All genres except romance and erotica
Anthology Editor: Fran Walker
Payment: $25 + 1 cc

For more information or to nominate stories, go to:

22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

The 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is now online! Sideshow › 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction – Part I Sideshow › 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction – Part II Sideshow › 22nd Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction – Part III

Enjoy them, and I apologize for the delay.  If this is your first time hearing of this event, there's archived carnivals at the website.  If anyone is willing to deal with waiting on me and host the 23rd Carnival, email me please.

My Virtual Book Tour Is On!

Hi there!
If you've never seen a virtual book tour before, you can check mine out this month! The promotion company I hired sent me 20 different interviews at different blogs, where I will be guest blogging for the month of March. It's been really fun so when you have the chance, check it out. If you want more info about how to promote your work via guest blogging, ask! I love to talk shop!
Mar. 3 –
Mar. 4 –
Mar. 5 –
Mar. 6 –
Mar. 7 –
Mar. 10 –
Mar. 11 –
Mar. 12 –
Mar. 13 –
Mar. 14 –
Mar. 17 – (review)
Mar. 18 –
Mar. 19 – (interview)
Mar. 20 – (spotlight-synopsis & book cover posted)
Mar. 21 –
Mar. 24 -
Mar. 25 –
Mar. 26 –
Mar. 27 –
Mar. 28 –

Women’s History Month on is dedicating Women’s History Month to “The Women of Space Westerns.” Visit the sidebar on the home page for a list of Women writers appearing on

Also, please check out this feature article:

The Women of Space Westerns

by N.E. Lilly

When speaking on the subject of Space Westerns, how can you avoid the subject of pioneers? In the early days, or so the story goes, Science Fiction was written mostly by men, and yet even from the early days of the pulps there was still a subtle feminine influence in the genre. — ed, N.E. Lilly

N.E. Lilly

feminist blogs

This is slightly off-topic from the posts which normaly appear in this community, but I thought this would be a good place to ask for feminist blog recommendations.

Of course, "feminist" is a broad term, and I'm interested in a wide variety of topics. So, what are your favourites?
leg house

Call For Submissions I got in my inbox today :)

Extended deadline for my new anthology -- please forward!

Hi everyone--

I've received a ton of brilliant submissions for Why Are Faggots So
Afraid of Faggots?, but I'm extending the call for submissions all the
way to May 15, 2008, and looking for more essays on the following
topics in particular:

*ability/disability, body fascism, fat politics
*race, racialized desire, racism in gay/queer cultures
*perspectives from outside the US
*perspectives from rural areas, small towns and non-destination cities
*faggotry in prison
*aging, ageism, older-younger relationships
*sexual safety and risk-taking, HIV, health status
*public sexual cultures

Pasted below is the original call -- please forward far and wide, and
feel free to email me ( with any questions.


flaming challenges to masculinity, objectification and the desire to


As back rooms are shut down to make way for wedding vows, and gay
sexual culture becomes little more than straight-acting dudes hangin'
out, where are the possibilities for a defiant faggotry that
challenges the assimilationist norms of a world that wants us dead?

Masculine ideals have long reigned supreme in male sexual spaces, from
the locker room to the tea room, the bars to the back alleys to the
beaches. But is there something more brutal and dehumanizing about
the calculated hyperobjectification of the internet? How do we
confront the limits of transaction sexuality, where scorn becomes
"just a preference," lack of respect is assumed, and lying is a given?
How can we create something splendid and intimate from that universe
of shaking and moaning and nervous glances turned inward now groaning?

I'm especially interested in essays about community-building
experiments, public sexual cultures, faggots not socialized or
presenting as male, cruising, HIV, consumerism, transfaggotry,
polyamory, feminism, sexual safety and risk-taking, norms for faggots
outside of the US, and gender transgression (of course). I'm looking
for essays that expose hierarchies of gender, age, race, nationality,
class, body type, ability, sexuality and other identity categories
instead of imposing fascistic definitions based on beauty myth
consumer norms. That's right, honey -- I'm talking about interventions
that are dangerous and lovely, just like you.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the editor, most recently, of Nobody
Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal/Avalon,
2007) and an expanded second edition of That's Revolting! Queer
Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull, forthcoming June
2008). Her second novel, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly, will be
published by City Lights in September 2008. For more on Mattilda,

The basics:

*Submit non-fiction essays of up to 6,000 words. All submissions must
be typed and double-spaced, and sent by post (no email submissions,
but feel free to contact me with queries,
Please include a short bio.

*Deadline is May 15, 2008.

*Send submissions to:
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
537 Jones Street, #3152
San Francisco, CA 94102

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
537 Jones Street, #3152
San Francisco, CA 94102 <>

Bella Book and Spinsters Ink Blog

 Hi there-

I'm relatively new to blogging, so forgive any faux pas I might inadvertently commit. The authors from Bella Books and Spinsters Ink have just started a blog spinster_bella in an effort to pluck the publishers who have kindly published us from the small pond and thrust them into a larger one. In order to do this, we realized that we needed to connect with the larger online community (something many authors still shy away from...I suppose technology is a scary force to some folks).

This is our invitation to this community for you to pop on over and ask us how blogging is done...and generally take advantage of our collective publishing and writing experience.

We hope to see hear from you...and to connect in a way that enhances all of our writing careers and dreams!

And thank you for letting me post. I figure the more supportive we are of each other, the higher up the book food chain we can go!