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Doubting SexInscriptions, Bodies and Selves in Nineteenth-century Hermaphrodite Case Histories$
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Geertje Mak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086908

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086908.001.0001

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Scripting the Self. N. O. Body's Autobiography

Scripting the Self. N. O. Body's Autobiography

(p.205) 9 Scripting the Self. N. O. Body's Autobiography
Doubting Sex

Geertje Mak

Manchester University Press

This chapter investigates the autobiography of N. O. Body published in 1907. It illustrates how the relationship with the self became prioritized above one's position vis-à-vis others, as the individual quest for an inner truth of sex started to replace the desperate search for a morally acceptable position in society. In case histories of hermaphrodites, physicians hardly initiated ways of investigating the sex of self on their own account. N. O. Body's autobiographical text clearly differs from that of Herculine Barbin, who never made the most of the characteristics of her childhood to prove her innate masculine disposition. The homosexual story of the ‘female soul trapped in a male body’ is very similar to Body's story. The difference between the plot and morality of Barbin and Body's texts perfectly exemplifies Charles Taylor's assertion that the self had become an inner space and had turned into a constitutive good.

Keywords:   N. O. Body, sex of self, autobiography, hermaphrodites, Herculine Barbin, Charles Taylor

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