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.