For me, it's not all about whether the stories in this book are creepy, but it's the fact that they're pure vintage supernatural tales. Frankly I'd neFor me, it's not all about whether the stories in this book are creepy, but it's the fact that they're pure vintage supernatural tales. Frankly I'd never heard of several of the authors represented in this book and I was just delighted to discover them. Much, much more to come about this collection as soon as time permits, but it is most definitely geared toward people like me who just love and can't get enough of these old tales.
Just an FYI: it's not by Conrad Richter. He's in here represented by two of his Matson Bell stories, but he's not the author.
More soon. For now all I can say is that this book is out-there incredibly cool, and the way this guy uses language here is beyond great. But more toMore soon. For now all I can say is that this book is out-there incredibly cool, and the way this guy uses language here is beyond great. But more to come....more
The Hermaphrodite may be a tough novel to read, but it is an important book on many levels, considering when it was written and what was going on in tThe Hermaphrodite may be a tough novel to read, but it is an important book on many levels, considering when it was written and what was going on in the life of the author at the time.
for plot and more of an in-depth look at what scholars have to say about this book, you can click here; otherwise, you can get some basic ideas from the following.
There is so much going on in this book that I can't begin to cover it all. Howe's book is important mainly because of the way it contributes to an understanding of gender awareness and sexuality in America of the time. It also reveals Howe's belief that gender was more or less a construct, something that is widely covered in literature today, but a very radical idea in Antebellum America. The reverse was true in Europe: as noted in the novel's introduction, Theophile Gautier was writing along these lines in his Mademoiselle de Maupin (definitely NOT an American favorite of the time; one critic called it an outrage to the "common sentiment of the American mind") as was George Sand, whose Gabriel featured an intersex character, and whose work Howe admired.
In the introduction to this novel, scholar Gary Williams, who has painstakingly reconstructed the fragments of this work from Howe's originals, notes that
"Howe saved herself with this history of a strange being," which he claims is a "projection of both her husband and herself;" he also notes that "the narrative...is solidly rooted in the psychological terrain" of Howe's life at the time. Her marriage to Samuel Gridley Howe was problematic from the beginning. According to Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States
"Julia Ward Howe ... wrote a novel about a hermaphrodite--a man/woman who loves both men and women--that most critics now think was her own meditation on her husband's bisexuality."
Along those lines, Williams notes that "the trope of the hermaphrodite seems to have offered a scaffold for trying to understand in corporeal terms why a man (or an apparent man) might wish to deflect the attentions of a beautiful and devoted woman," and that
"the hermaphrodite was arguably as useful as a screen on which to project certain other aspects of her situation. Laurence may be Samuel Howe, yes, but "he" is also Julia, a being fusing culturally ascribed impulses of both genders and thereby consigned, according to the logic of American domestic ideology, to a loveless and sexless ambition." (xxvii)
As a woman of her time, Howe felt constrained by "claustrophobic conditions" (marriage, motherhood, male society's expectations of women in those roles) that hindered her desire to fulfill her intellectual ambitions. Her frustrations along these lines are also explored here fictionally, mainly toward the end.
There is so much more to talk about -- art, the spirit of true and nonsexual love and friendship between men and women, identity, alienation and so on. Suffice it to say that if you can get through the often boggy prose, it is well worth exploring, and I'm extremely happy to have read it, despite the difficulties. ...more