Androgyny in Modern Literature engages with the ways in which the trope of androgyny has shifted during the late nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Alchemical, Platonic, sexological, psychological, and decadent representations of androgyny have provided writers with an icon which has been appropriated in diverse, often paradoxical, ways. Androgyny and the androgyne have signaled cultural regeneration and degeneration, a state of mind and an embodiment, a figure or trope celebrated for being divine or reviled and pathologised for disrupting ‘normative’ gendered identities, criticized for its conservative reinforcement of them. This fascinating new study traces the many different revisions of psycho-sexual, embodied, cultural, literary and feminist fantasies and repudiations of an unstable but ubiquitous trope across a broad range of writers and texts, including Plato, Freud, Earl Lind’s Autobiography of an Androgyne, Rachilde, Huysmans, Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, Rose Allatini, Ursula Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Gore Vidal, Angela Carter, Jeffrey Eugenides and Lindsay Clarke.
By T. Hargreaves, 2004