In his essay "Francois Villon," the great Russian poet Osip Mandelstam writes: "The lyrical poet is a hermaphrodite by nature, capable of limitless fissions in the name of his inner monologue." In an essay from the mid-eighties on Mandelstam & Bakhtin, "Dialogue as 'Lyrical Hermaphrodism
,'" Svetlana Boym comments as follows: "Mandelstam's 'lyrical hermaphroditism' does not signify a Platonic ideal of androgynous wholeness, a reconciliation of two polarities.
Alternatively, his negative portrait of the androgynized woman may be seen as participating in the greater cultural anxiety surrounding discourses of hermaphrodism
and intersexuality in the period.
No other congenital anomalies, such as cryptorchidism or hermaphrodism
, were identified.
The final chapter, 'Devaluing the Beard: Half Beards and Hermaphrodites', documents the transition of hermaphrodism
from the mythic and spiritual registers of value in antiquity to the legal and medical value registers of the early modern period.
Every conceivable trait, physical or psychic, is reduced to (and by) sexuality until a singular nature remains, the irreducible entity known as the "homosexual." Sharp's conviction that each man harbours a latent "'five percent'" that can be activated under special circumstances amounts to an anxious opposition to the "hermaphrodism
of the soul" reading offered by Foucault.
"There is no question that the appearance in nineteenth century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature, of a whole series of discourse on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and 'psychic hermaphrodism
' made possible a strong advance of social controls into the area of 'perversity' but it also made possible the formation of a 'reverse' discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or 'naturality' be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.
This suggests hermaphrodism
over the course of an individual's life, but with relatively abrupt changes in sex rather than extended periods of simultaneous hermaphrodism
in Anodonta grandis, a freshwater mussel.
There is no question that the appearance in nineteenth-century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature of a whole series of discourses on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and "psychic hermaphrodism
" made possible a strong advance of social controls into this area "perversity" ...
The latter revel in gratuitous sexuality, glorifying the erotic myth of hermaphrodism
through symbolism rather than psychology.