Are They Women?
A Novel Concerning the Third Sex
  • Publication Date: November 15, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814800 / 1554814804
  • 150 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Are They Women?

A Novel Concerning the Third Sex

  • Publication Date: November 15, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814800 / 1554814804
  • 150 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Deeply engaged in women’s rights debates and discussions of the “third sex,” Are They Women? is about the lively communities of lesbians across turn-of-the-century Central Europe. It is one of the first lesbian novels written in German—indeed, in any language. It is also one of the very few pre-Second Wave feminist texts to provide a positive, non-pathologizing, and romantic portrait of lesbians. As such, it complicates the dominant critical narrative of pre-liberation lesbian literature, whereby heroines conventionally face loneliness, imprisonment, madness, death, and heterosexual conversion. A work of popular literature with cultural significance, Are They Women? is both highly readable and remarkably progressive for its time.

This is the first complete English translation of the novel, and the only edition in print in any language. The historical appendices provide contemporary materials on homosexuality, as well as compelling images from German feminist periodicals of the time.

APPENDICES

Appendix A: Contemporary Reviews

Appendix B: “A Typical Case of the Present Time. An Open Letter” (1905) by Anita Augspurg

Appendix C: “What Interest Does the Women’s Movement Have in Solving the Homosexual Problem?” (1904) by Anna Rüling

Appendix D: From Sexual Inversion (1897) by Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds

Appendix E: Contemporary Images

  • a. Draisena cover from 24 April 1899
  • b. Draisena image of Mlle. Pauline by J. Beau, Paris. From 26. October 1898 issue
  • c. Indische Novellen (1914) cover image

Margaret Sönser Breen is Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Nisha Kommattam is Associate Instructional Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago and an affiliated researcher at the Institut für Südasien- und Südostasien-Studien at the University of Cologne, Germany.