Add to Cart About Herculine Barbin With an eye for the sensual bloom of young schoolgirls, and the torrid style of the romantic novels of her day, Herculine Barbin tells the story of her life as a hermaphrodite. Herculine was designated female at birth. A pious girl in a Catholic orphanage, a bewildered adolescent enchanted by the ripening bodies of her classmates, a passionate lover of another schoolmistress, she is suddenly reclassified as a man. Alone and desolate, he commits suicide at the age of thirty in a miserable attic in Paris. Here, in an erotic diary, is one lost voice from our sexual past. Provocative, articulate, eerily prescient as she imagines her corpse under the probing instruments of scientists, Herculine brings a disturbing perspective to our own notions of sexuality.
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Edit Most of what we know about Barbin comes from her later memoirs. She was regarded as a girl and raised as such but later renamed herself Alexina.
Her family was poor but she gained a charity scholarship to study in the school of an Ursuline convent. According to her account, she had a crush on an aristocratic female friend in school. However, her studies were successful and in , at the age of seventeen she was sent to Le Chateau to study to become a teacher. There she fell in love with one of the teachers. Although Barbin was in puberty, she had not begun to menstruate and remained flat chested. She shaved her upper lip, cheeks and arms.
She fell in love with another teacher, Sara, and Barbin demanded that only she should dress her. Her ministrations turned into caresses and they became lovers. Eventually rumors about their affair begun to circulate. Barbin began to suffer unexpected pains. When a doctor examined her, he was shocked and asked that she should be sent away but she stayed. He asked her permission to break the confessional silence in order to send for a doctor to examine her. When Dr. Chesnet did so in , he discovered that even if Barbin had a small vagina , she was bodily masculine and had a very small penis with the testicles inside her body.
In modern terms, she had " male pseudohermaphroditism ". Later legal decision determined that Barbin became officially male. He left his lover and his job, changed his name to Abel Barbin and was briefly mentioned in the press. He moved to Paris where he lived in poverty and wrote his memoirs, reputedly as a part of a therapy. He had committed suicide by gas of his coal stove. His memoirs were found beside his bed.
Memoirs and modern commentaries Edit Dr. Regnier reported the death, recovered the memoirs and performed an autopsy. Later he gave the memoirs to Auguste Ambroise Tardieu who later published excerpts of it. The excerpts were translated to English in Herculine, a full length play based on the memoirs of Barbin, is by Garrett Heater. Sources and further reading Barbin, Herculine Michel Foucault , trans. ISBN Dreger, Alice Domurat Spring Victorian Studies 38 3 : — ISSN Lafrance, Marc Canadian Review of Comparative Literature June: Leroi, Armand Marie New York: Viking, —
Edit Most of what we know about Barbin comes from her later memoirs. She was regarded as a girl and raised as such but later renamed herself Alexina. Her family was poor but she gained a charity scholarship to study in the school of an Ursuline convent. According to her account, she had a crush on an aristocratic female friend in school.