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Herculine Barbin (Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth Century French Hermaphrodite) Paperback – June 12, 1980


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (June 12, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394738624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394738628
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls, and the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a hermaphrodite. Herculine was designated female at birth. A pious girl in a Catholic orphanage, a bewildered adolescent enchanted by the ripening bodies of her classmates, a passionate lover of another schoolmistress, she is suddenly reclassified as a man. Alone and desolate, he commits suicide at the age of thirty in a miserable attic in Paris.

Here, in an erotic diary, is one lost voice from our sexual past. Provocative, articulate, eerily prescient as she imagines her corpse under the probing instruments of scientists, Herculine brings a disturbing perspective to our own notions of sexuality. Michel Foucault, who discovered these memoirs in the archives of the French Department of Public Hygiene, presents them with the graphic medical descriptions of Herculine's body before and after her death. In a striking contrast, a painfully confused young person and the doctors who examine her try to sort out the nature of masculine and feminine at the dawn of the age of modern sexuality.

"Herculine Barbin can be savored like a libertine novel. The ingenousness of Herculine, the passionate yet equivocal tenderness which thrusts her into the arms, even into the beds, of her companions, gives these pages a charm strangely erotic...Michel Foucault has a genius for bringing to light texts and reviving destinies outside the ordinary."Le Monde, July 1978

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By C. Boucher on March 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was very well written by Ms Barbin herself. With every line I could feel her/his confusion and pain. Anyone interested ln this topic should read this book.
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12 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of reading this novel for a college class, and I must admit that it was psychologically stimulating in one sense, and poignant in another sense. The fact that the story is actually based on true events makes the novel all the more appealing.
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1 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Julio Esteves Valdivieso on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book arrived to my box in miami cutted in the front, I am very disappointed about this purchase, you must be carefull in future purchases
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5 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael Angelo Faulkner on March 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of a fascinating but so troubled human being. As a Catholic myself, I am especially impressed by how wonderful the people who surrounded Herculine were. Here these simple people were faced with a most complex and mystifying problem and they treated Herculine with so much kindness. As all were Catholics, I enjoy this memoir as a fine Catholic book.
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