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Transgender and The Literary ImaginationChanging Gender in Twentieth-Century Writing$
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Rachel Carroll

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414661

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414661.001.0001

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‘Two men, so dissimilar’: Class, Marriage and Masculinity in George Moore’s Albert Nobbs (1918) and Simone Benmussa’s The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs (1977)

‘Two men, so dissimilar’: Class, Marriage and Masculinity in George Moore’s Albert Nobbs (1918) and Simone Benmussa’s The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs (1977)

Chapter:
(p.37) Chapter 1 ‘Two men, so dissimilar’: Class, Marriage and Masculinity in George Moore’s Albert Nobbs (1918) and Simone Benmussa’s The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs (1977)
Source:
Transgender and The Literary Imagination
Author(s):

Rachel Carroll

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414661.003.0002

This chapter examines a critically overlooked literary fiction by an Irish writer whose legacy has tended to be overshadowed by the modernist generation which succeeded him. George Moore’s Albert Nobbs depicts the lives of not one but two female-bodied men working in a Dublin hotel in the 1860s. It provides an alternative origin for a literary history of transgender representation, with an emphasis on lived experience and social reality rather than the historical fantasy of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, published ten years later. This chapter aims to articulate the ‘transgender capacity’ (David Getsy, 2014) of Moore’s novella, exploring the insights it offers into the social and economic functions of gender. Simone Benmussa’s 1977 stage adaptation, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, has been canonised as a classic of feminist theatre; reflection on its critical reception reveals the ways in which transgender motifs have been interpreted in Second Wave feminist contexts.

Keywords:   Class, fiction, marriage, masculinity, modernism, Second Wave feminism, stage adaptation, transgender

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