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TSE  September 2002

TSE September 2002

Subject:

Re: Mr. Eugenides and gender ambiguity

From:

Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

T. S. Eliot Discussion forum.

Date:

Sun, 8 Sep 2002 11:27:09 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (67 lines)

Sounds like a re-read of G.K. Chesterton's EUGENICS AND OTHER EVILS
would be in order.
Cheers,
Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: Rickard A. Parker
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 9/8/02 8:51 AM
Subject: Mr. Eugenides and gender ambiguity

Is this coincidence or what?

The Boston Globe for Sunday, Sep. 8, 2002 has on page E7 a review of
the novel "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides.

The review is entitled "Both sides now" and is by Gail Caldwell.
The blurb for the review is:
    In the masterful "Middlesex," Jeffrey Eugenides explores the
apparent
    opposites of male and female, myth and history.

The full review can be found online at:
    http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/251/living/Both_sides_now+.shtml

Here are the first two paragraphs:

    Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" is a big, cheeky, splendid novel, and
    its confidence is part of its success, because it goes places few
    narrators would dare to tread. Traditional in form but radically
outre
    in subject, it's something of a poseur--an old-fashioned story
    camouflaged in hipster threads, brandishing leather and body
piercings
    but reliant upon ancient conventions as well as a tender heart. Even
    the allusions to George Eliot's "Middlemarch" are more sendup than
    boast, for the milieu depicted here is no English village; instead,
    the three-generational family line of the novel begins in Greece,
    zigzags mercilessly to Detroit, and then lands in contemporary
    Berlin. The muse holding forth at its center presumes to be a girl
    named Calliope, who can float in and out of her omniscient-narrator
    position as effortlessly as she does her khakis and unisex polo
    shirts--a quick-change artist if ever there was one, in spirit and
    body both. Namesake of that sweet-sister Muse in charge of epic
    poetry, Calliope has at least as much in common with
    Hermaphroditus--the classical figure born a boy, seduced by the love
    of a female nymph, then changed forever into a blend of the lover
and
    the beloved.

    But if "Middlesex," too, is a bit of a cross-dresser, burying itself
    in the finery of the avant-garde while in actuality clinging to
    customs of the country, it's never coy about that coupling. Calliope
    (eventually, Cal) announces her girl-to-boy transition in the
opening
    paragraph of the novel, informing us that she was born Calliope
Helen
    Stephanides in 1960, only to find herself as a himself 14 years
    later. Now 41, Cal is with the State Department and stationed in
    Berlin, where he's struggling with how much to tell the object (a
she)
    of his current affection. That's a mere footnote to the
    near-mythological past, where Callie/Cal's destiny was written long
    before birth and where most of the story will take place.

Regards,
    Rick Parker

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