Katharine Burdekin Proud Man

ISBN 13: 9781558610675

Proud Man

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Originally published in England in 1934, this searing, still timely novel offers and incisive critique of the sexual politics and militarism of England, and the West as a whole.

Proud Man is told from the perspective of a "Genuine Person" who has been thrown back in time thousands of years from a peaceful future society. The Genuine Person comes from a people that are androgynous, self-fertilizing, and vegetarian; they live without a national government and artificial social divisions of gender and class. Taking on first female, then male form, the "Genuine Person" confronts the deeply troubled reality of England in the 1930s, still battered after one World War and on the road to another.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A first US edition of another reprinted novel (this originally published in 1934) by Burdekin (1896-1963), who also wrote as ``Murray Constantine'' (Swastika Night, 1985; The End of This Day's business, 1989). In her most impressive re-outings so far, a highly evolved, vegetarian, androgynous, self-fertile, dispassionate, rational, telepathic Person from the far future visits 1930's England in a dream. More than dialectic, less than polemic, Burdekin's ``novel'' offers observations from this detached, implicitly feminist perspective. In the first section, the Person describes and analyses human and British history for his/her contemporaries (though whence the Person derives his/her information isn't clear). Next, the Person meets and talks with an old priest, Andrew Gifford, who calls the Person ``Verona'' and teaches him/her English. Then the Person converses with Leonora Simons, a novelist who's trapped and frustrated by sexual politics and gender identity, and whose child had died. Finally, the Person encounters Gilbert Hassall, a child-murderer who regards the Person, now calling him/herself Gifford Verona, as male. Vastly more readable than other Burdekin reissues, with frequently devastating--and remarkably skillful--feminist analyses. (Be prepared, however, to grit your teeth when the author comes unstuck; her discussion of homosexuality, for instance, is utterly misguided.) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Originally published in 1934 under the pseudonym Murray Constantine and praised by Scottish poet Edwin Muir as "the most profound and brilliantly sustained satire that has appeared for many years," this visionary "speculative fiction" may become a rediscovered classic of feminist literature. Using the device of time travel, Burdekin places a protagonist who is both male and female, comes from an advanced future civilization, and is identified as the Person in England of the 1930s. The Person comments on that society with the distanced and often bemused glance of . . . a human, as opposed to the less evolved "subhumans" of the twentieth century. Given refuge and education by a priest, the Person lives first as a woman and then as a man, observing, revealing, and ultimately going on to heal, all with a coolness that sympathetically penetrates to the core of subhuman suffering: "A privilege of class divides a subhuman society horizontally, while a privilege of sex divides it vertically. Subhumans cannot apparently exist without their societies being divided, preferably in both these ways." Whitney Scott

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