In this paean to the pleasures of language, Gass equates his text with the body of Babs Masters, the lonesome wife of the title, to advance the conceit that a parallel should exist between a woman and her lover and a book and its reader. Disappointed by her inattentive husband/reader, Babs engages in an exuberant display of the physical charms of language to entice an illicit new lover: a man named Gelvin in one sense, but more importantly, the reader of this “essay-novella” which, in the years since its first appearance in 1968 as a supplement to TriQuarterly, has attained the status of a postmodernist classic.
Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife, Literary Language and the Problem of Meaning. By Richard Henry
The Book as Book
by Richard Henry
Gass on Willie
by Richard Henry. From selected interviews with William Gass
Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife as Pornographic Critique
by Rolf Samuels