By Tracy Hargreaves
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Extra resources for Androgyny in Modern Literature
They are beautiful youths of feminine delicacy and with effeminate forms; they do not cast their eyes down, but gaze in mysterious triumph, as if they knew of a great achievement of happiness, about which silence must be kept. The familiar smile of fascination leads one to guess that it is a secret of love. It is possible that in these figures Leonardo has denied the unhappiness of his erotic life and has triumphed over it in his art, by representing the wishes of the boy, infatuated with his mother, as fulfilled in the blissful union of male and female natures.
Although androgyny is evidently a ubiquitous trope, it is also just as evidently not a transcendent one. But if androgyny functioned as a trope that had a useful explanatory purpose in understanding psychic and sexual motivation, it was also, as I show in chapter 2, one that had its limitations too. ’1 It was a denunciation that the character Barnaby echoes (pace Carpenter) in Rose Allatini’s pacifist novel of 1918, Despised and Rejected: ‘Of course there are those who enjoy it – who wallow in the perverted sensations of their own abnormality, as normal sensualists wallow in their own “permissible” lusts’ (p.
69 In Krafft-Ebing’s intricate categorisations, androgyny was just one sub-species of what he termed ‘Cerebral Neuroses’. His precision is oddly belied by the eventual approximation of his findings. 70 ‘Paraesthesia’ subdivided into Sadism, Masochism, Fetishism and Antipathic Sexuality, Classical to Medical 29 or the total absence of feeling towards the opposite sex (what Freud called ‘absolute inverts’ in ‘The Sexual Aberrations’). Krafft-Ebing then further subdivided antipathic sexuality into different manifestations and characteristics.