CONUNDRUM by Jan Morris


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As a boy James Morris realized that his/her ""landscapes were Millais or Holman Hunt"" and wise readers will know that they're going to be exposed to some airbrushed mysticism along with this account of transsexualism and James' ultimate passing over to become Jan Morris. Beyond Christine, we know little about it -- nor (as one learns) how widespread it seems to be -- nor probably until now that it is ""a passionate, lifelong, ineradicable conviction."" James was first aware of it at three or four. Oxford, the Army (paradoxically he enjoyed and respected it), a career in journalism, a long marriage to a wife with whom he was ""en rapport"" from the beginning, five children, and some books later found him -- in middle age -- at the most unstable phase of his sexual confusion and determined to ""escape from maleness into womanhood."" Thus hormone therapy and his ""small breasts blossomed,"" unisex and the new styles facilitating change, and finally surgery (after a divorce) in Casablanca. Still the initial transport (""I shone. I was Ariel!"") is amended with a few qualifying remarks about being a woman in the city of Bath where she now lives in, of course, a man's world. . . As Morris tells the bisexual story with a certain soppiness (certainly not apparent before in Pax Britannica, etc.) one reads it with greater malaise than it might have provoked otherwise -- and of course for the curiosity which has been (vicariously?) engendered.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1974
ISBN: 1590171896
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich