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The Chevalier d'Eon and his Worlds: Gender, Espionage and Politics in the Eighteenth Century, 1st edition

The Chevalier d'Eon and his Worlds: Gender, Espionage and Politics in the Eighteenth Century

ISBN-13:  9780826422781


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Cross-dressing author, envoy, soldier and spy Charles d'Eon de Beaumont's unusual career fascinated his contemporaries and continues to attract historians, novelists, playwrights, filmmakers, image makers, cultural theorists and those concerned with manifestations of the extraordinary. D'Eon's significance as a historical figure was already being debated more than 45 years before his death.


Not surprisingly, such sensational material has attracted the attention of enthusiasts, scholars and literateurs to 'the strange case of the chevalier d'Eon'. He has also attracted the attention of psychologists and sexologists, and for most of the last century his gender transformation has been viewed through a Freudian lens. His cross-dressing, it was usually assumed, must have a psychosexual explanation. Until the second half of the twentieth century the terms 'Eonist' and 'Eonism' were the standard English words for transvestites and transvestism respectively, but 'Eonism' was also, thanks to Havelock Ellis, widely regarded as a psychological condition or compulsion. However, in the mid-twentieth century, new ideas about gender-identity disorders led to d'Eon being redefined not as a transvestite, but a transsexual - a person who considers their sex to have been 'misassigned'.

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The essays in this collection contribute to d'Eon's rehabilitation as a figure worthy of scholarly attention and display a variety of disciplinary approaches. Drawing on new research into d'Eon's life, this volume offers original and nuanced readings of how a gender identity could come to be negotiated over time.


Table of contents

The Chevalier d'Eon: Media Star, News Manipulation, Cultural Politics and the Making of an Eighteenth-Century Celebrity

'Faire le Wilkes': The Chevalier d'Eon and the Wikites, 1762-1775

¿Beaumarchais and d'Eon: An Affair to Remember

¿Je suis n¿ a Tonnerre

A 'monster of metamorphosis': Reassessing the Chevalier/Chevali¿re d'Eon's Change of Gender

'La Vie militaire, politique et priv¿e de Melle d'Eon' (1779), ou comment faire d'un r¿cit¿ de vie une enterprise de manipulation

The Maiden of Tonnerre: Vicissitudes of the Chevalier and Chevali¿re d'Eon

Dressing d'Eon

The Chevalier d'Eon and his Several Identities: Representations of d'Eon in English caricatures of the 1770s and 1780s

An Eighteenth-Century French Commonwealthman? Exploring the Context of the Chevalier d'Eon's Translation of Marchamont Nedham's 'The Excellence of a Free State'

Traditions and Discontinuities: d'Eon and Choisy

The Chevalier d'Eon, Rousseau, and New Ideas for Gender, Sex and the Self in the late Eighteenth Century

Louvet's 'Les Amours du Chevalier de Faublas': Sexual, Political and Textual Imbroglios

Le Mythe des Amazones au XVIIIe si¿cle at la l¿gende du chevalier d'Eon

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Published by Continuum (April 23rd 2010) - Copyright © 2010