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Conundrum Paperback – 8 Apr 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (8 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571209467
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571209460
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A compelling and moving read, a world away from the tabloid titillation that normally surrounds the subject. -- Daily Mail, 12 April 2002

A perfectly formed work of art, achieving the state of grace to which its creator so elegantly aspires. -- Times Literary Supplement, 17 May 2002

In a new introduction, Morris describes the book as a period piece. She does herself and injustice. It is a classic. -- The Times, 30 March 2002

The book is as compelling today as when it first appeared. -- Evening Standard, 8 April 2002

Writing about her self, a place she has explored profoundly, she achieves inspired reportage and a courageous self-analysis. -- Observer, 24 March 2002

Book Description

Conundrum by Jan Morris - one of Britain's best and best-loved travel writers - is perhaps her most remarkable work; a grippingly honest account of her ten-year transition from man to woman.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 9 April 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an intriguing memoir, beautifully written by an author who has written numerous other non-fiction books. Jan Morris, formerly known as James Morris, was the correspondent for the London Times assigned to cover England's historic summit of Everest. The author actually accompanied the expedition to the Himalayas and did on site dispatches of the historic event. It would be as James Morris that she would write the wonderful book, "Coronation Everest", which chronicles the events leading to the historic summit of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on the eve of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The author would eventually become a celebrated writer of many travel books, journeying the world over.
This very personal book is an autobiographical narrative of the author's own gender dysphoria, as she, a biological male at birth, had always felt that she had been born into the wrong body. Elegantly written, it is not a book for those who are seeking tabloid sensationalism. Rather, it is, at times, somewhat anachronistic in feel, as it was written by someone who lived through a time when actual gender changes were still in the nascent stages. Passing historical references are made to those transsexuals who paved the way for others.
The author's account of her early life is fascinating, as much of it was spent in traditional male pursuits of the time. A stint in the army as a member of the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, years as a well-known foreign correspondent, as well as husband and father, were all roles in which the author found some satisfaction but never total fulfillment, as her gender dysphoria continually intruded upon her happiness, a dark cloud hovering over all that she did and all that she was.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leela Attfield on 23 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-written autobiographical account of how Jan Morris came to realise that she had been born in the wrong gender, and changed to become a woman. It is essential reading for anyone trying to understand their friends and acquaintances who have undergone this procedure.
It was written nearly forty years ago, and Jan Morris was born in the 1920s, so an added interest is her observations (from the point of view of someone of that generation) about how the two different genders are treated in social occasions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. P. Jay on 11 July 2013
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A travel writer talks about a different sort of journey, the journey from male to female, from James to Jan.

Solitary because of inner conflicts and a sense of difference which developed mystic trappings, he prays to God to make him a girl. He took the girl's role in boarding school romances and he detested sports except for cross-country running. He said that it was not about testicle or womb about the self. He fantasised more about caress than copulation.

He explores the history of men cross-dressing and reckons that it was not until the Eighteenth Century that Western civilisation imposed rigid gender distinctions. In the past, cross-dressers didn't believe themselves to be women. He wonders about the nature versus nurture debate.

He had a satisfactory marriage based mainly upon friendship but he fathered five children. Sensuality was more important than intercourse, though he uses phallic imagery: tanks are mobile guns which fulfil only one purpose - brutal thrust

People wrongly assume, he says, that gender dysphoria is a choice and he contrasts the transvestite who gets a frisson from wearing female clothes to the transsexual for whom it is merely a sense of relief

His psychiatrist says that his fantasy could be reality but that he must be regarded as sane. They won't operate if he's psychotic. While waiting for the operation he has to try to remember which role to play when.

What did others think? The upper class tolerated mavericks and the Army was no exception. She was more approved of as esoteric than as homosexual. `Arabs asked me to go for walks with them.' `Young people in West didn't care.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S.atsea on 21 Dec. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent ! A rare & immaculately written insight to a conundrum few of us are forced to face : "imagine not knowing who you are, then realising you aren't who you are". No need to imagine anymore, for this author beautifully and eloquently explains how it was for her - all entwined amongst fascinating family life, travel tales, high adventure and most of all, sensible, non-sensational descriptive explanation.
A truly beautiful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wisedoor on 13 July 2013
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I had wanted to read this for many years but not got around to it. It is a truthful and unblenching account of how one person changed gender and still managed to maintain family responsibilities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geiogio on 2 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was spellbound by the beautiful, rich language used. IT is a real treat nowadays to read something from a ;over of language.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I. A. Clark on 31 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Candid memoirs of a life which started off in a body of the wrong gender. Having served in the army, no one can say Jan Morris didn't try to make a go of her birth gender. Nor did she rush into her sex-change. A little dated now in its attitudes, but that's the penalty of being one of the pioneers. Her writing style is a delight to read, as ever, with its muted humour and shrewd observation.
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