"The Female Marine" and Related Works: Narratives of Cross-Dressing and Urban Vice in America's Early Republic

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9781558491243:

This is the first complete modern edition of The Female Marine, a fictional cross-dressing trilogy originally published between 1815 and 1818. Enormously popular among New England readers, the tale in various versions appeared in no fewer than nineteen editions over that brief four-year span. This new edition appends three other contemporary accounts of cross-dressing and urban vice which, together with The Female Marine, provide a unique portrayal of prostitution and interracial city life in early-nineteenth-century America.

The alternately racy and moralistic narrative recounts the adventures of a young woman from rural Massachusetts who is seduced by a false-hearted lover, flees to Boston, and is entrapped in a brothel. She eventually escapes by disguising herself as a man and serves with distinction on board the U.S. frigate Constitution during the War of 1812. After subsequent onshore adventures in and out of male dress, she is happily married to a wealthy New York gentleman.

In his introduction, Daniel A. Cohen situates the story in both its literary and historical contexts. He explains how the tale draws upon a number of popular Anglo-American literary genres, including the female warrior narrative, the sentimental novel, and the urban exposé. He then explores how The Female Marine reflects early-nineteenth-century anxieties concerning changing gender norms, the expansion of urban prostitution, the growth of Boston's African American community, and feelings of guilt aroused by New England's notoriously unpatriotic activities during the War of 1812.

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Review:

First published in 1815, The Female Marine purported to be the autobiography of a woman who, in order to escape the shame of having a child out of wedlock and subsequent work as a prostitute, disguised herself as a boy and joined the Marines. The popularity of this narrative led to its being reprinted 19 times in 3 years and gave rise to a series of sequels, also included in this modern edition. This is a lively tale full of duels, piracy, and swashbuckling. It is also a sobering study about what a woman in early 19th-century America had to do to achieve some level of independence. Cross-dressing for this protagonist is not about performing; it is about saving her life. In addition to the action-filled plot and astute cultural observations, this book has wonderfully florid 19th-century prose that makes it appropriate for reading aloud.

About the Author:

Associate professor of history at Florida International University, Daniel A. Cohen is author of Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674-1860.

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Book Description 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 152mm x 15mm x 228mm. Paperback. Fascinating tales of cross-dressing and debauchery in early-nineteenth-century AmericaThis is the first complete modern edition of The Female Marine, a fictional cross-dressin.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 216 pages. 0.367. Bookseller Inventory # 9781558491243

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