The Hermaphrodite / Edition 1

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Overview


Written in the 1840s and published here for the first time, Julia Ward Howe’s novel about a hermaphrodite is unlike anything of its time—or, in truth, of our own. Narrated by Laurence, who is raised and lives as a man, is loved by men and women alike, and can respond to neither, this unconventional story explores the understanding “that fervent hearts must borrow the disguise of art, if they would win the right to express, in any outward form, the internal fire that consumes them.” Laurence describes his repudiation by his family, his involvement with an attractive widow, his subsequent wanderings and eventual attachment to a sixteen-year-old boy, his own tutelage by a Roman nobleman and his sisters, and his ultimate reunion with his early love. His is a story unique in nineteenth-century American letters, at once a remarkable reflection of a largely hidden inner life and a richly imagined tale of coming of age at odds with one’s culture.

Howe wrote The Hermaphrodite when her own marriage was challenged by her husband’s affection for another man—and when prevailing notions regarding a woman’s appropriate role in patriarchal structures threatened Howe’s intellectual and emotional survival. The novel allowed Howe, and will now allow her readers, to occupy a speculative realm otherwise inaccessible in her historical moment.

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Editorial Reviews

Chronicle of Higher Education

"What was probably her [Julia Ward Howe's] most unusual work has remained unpublished until now. The 'Laurence manuscript'—actually, manuscript fragments—has dwelt in literary limbo in a box in Harvard University's Houghton Library. Now the novel has been stitched together by Gary Williams. . . . and released as The Hermaphrodite with a revealing introduction."—Chronicle of Higher Education
Legacy

"The publication of the book is one of the most exciting developments in nineteenth-century American literary studies of the past decades. It parallels the recovery of many other works by women and writers of color, but because it is an intersexual text, it also brings a new voice and perspective into scholarly conversations. . . . Howe's writings are newly important. We are lucky that they are available to us."—Renée Bergland, Legacy

— Ren�e Bergland

Key Reporter

"William's introduction to the volume contextualizes Howe's manuscript and provides fuel for interpretive thought."—Rebecca Resinski, Key Reporter

— Rebecca Resinski

American Studies in Scandinavia

"Scholars, teachers, and students of American studies are fortunate that Williams has edited, published, and introduced contemporary readers to Julia Ward Howe's Laurence manuscripts. The Hermaphrodite opens new perspectives on Julia Ward Howe. In this novel we hear the voice of the author as an important intellectual, and an astute critique of American culture who would later gain acclaim as an exemplary advocate for the rights of African Americans and women."—Laura Castor, American Studies in Scandinavia

— Laura Castor

CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women
"The Hermaphrodite should be especially alluring to students of queer theory, since it has taken over a century and a half for the book to come out of the closet. . . . A historically relevant and enduring novel."

— Liz Webster, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women

CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women

The Hermaphrodite should be especially alluring to students of queer theory, since it has taken over a century and a half for the book to come out of the closet. . . . A historically relevant and enduring novel.” —Liz Webster, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women

— Liz Webster

Legacy - Ren�e Bergland
"The publication of the book is one of the most exciting developments in nineteenth-century American literary studies of the past decades. It parallels the recovery of many other works by women and writers of color, but because it is an intersexual text, it also brings a new voice and perspective into scholarly conversations. . . . Howe's writings are newly important. We are lucky that they are available to us."—Renée Bergland, Legacy
Key Reporter - Rebecca Resinski

"William's introduction to the volume contextualizes Howe's manuscript and provides fuel for interpretive thought."—Rebecca Resinski, Key Reporter
American Studies in Scandinavia - Laura Castor

"Scholars, teachers, and students of American studies are fortunate that Williams has edited, published, and introduced contemporary readers to Julia Ward Howe's Laurence manuscripts. The Hermaphrodite opens new perspectives on Julia Ward Howe. In this novel we hear the voice of the author as an important intellectual, and an astute critique of American culture who would later gain acclaim as an exemplary advocate for the rights of African Americans and women."—Laura Castor, American Studies in Scandinavia
CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women - Liz Webster

The Hermaphrodite should be especially alluring to students of queer theory, since it has taken over a century and a half for the book to come out of the closet. . . . A historically relevant and enduring novel.” —Liz Webster, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910) is best remembered as the poet who wrote the words to “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Her literary fame was augmented by her eventual role as an activist for women’s rights and her efforts to mobilize women for various peace efforts. Gary Williams is a professor of English at the University of Idaho and the author of Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Speaking with the Voices of Others: Julia Ward Howe's Laurence ix
A Note on the Text xlv
The Hermaphrodite
Section 11
Section 291
Section 3161
Appendix 1 199
Appendix 2 203
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