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literature

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Carpenter, Edward (1844-1929)  
 
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Merrill had been raised in the slums of Sheffield and had no formal education. The attachment between the two men was undoubtedly one of real affection, but it also enabled Carpenter to achieve one of his long-standing goals in life: the realization of a bond between men that refused to be hindered by the rigid class divisions of English society.

Indeed, the love of Carpenter and Merrill probably formed the motivation for E. M. Forster's representation of the love between Maurice Hall and the gamekeeper Scudder in Maurice, a novel that Forster recollects being created in his imagination the moment Carpenter touched him lightly just above his buttocks.

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Carpenter's own writings tell a great deal about his life and the subtleties of passion that continually motivated and conflicted it. His first major work--and his only purely literary work--Towards Democracy (1883) is, in its final form, a collection of almost three hundred lyric poems divided into four sections.

Although the bulk of the poems were written in 1883, Carpenter continued to add poems to the collection until at least 1902. The poems clearly foreshadow the combination of mysticism and socialism that fascinated Carpenter later in life and also show the obvious influence of Walt Whitman on Carpenter's young academic mind.

The third poem from the first edition, for example, states, "I conceive a millennium on earth--a millennium not of riches, nor of mechanical facilities, nor of intellectual facilities, nor absolutely of immunity from disease, nor absolutely of immunity from pain; but a time when men and women all over the earth shall ascend and enter into relation with their bodies--shall attain freedom and joy." The stress on both men and women looks forward to his work in the feminist movement and suggests the extent to which the presence of six sisters and a strong mother must have influenced his thinking.

Carpenter also published an autobiography, My Days and Dreams (1916), that intersperses bits of his theories with moments from his life.

Carpenter's reputation, however, rests largely on three important radical tracts dealing with issues of sex and gender relations in society, Love's Coming-of-Age (1896), The Intermediate Sex (1906), and Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folks (1914).

Love's Coming-of-Age is a collection of three pamphlets, "Sex-love: and its Place in a Free Society," "Woman: and her Place in a Free Society," and "Marriage in a Free Society," which were published by the Labour Press in Manchester in 1894. A fourth pamphlet entitled "Homogenic Love: and its place in a Free Society" was not reprinted in the volume due to public hysteria following the trial of Oscar Wilde in 1895 and did not appear until 1906.

The first of these pamphlets, "Sex-love," argues that in industrial societies sex has become divorced from biological or natural need and instead is used to alienate men and women from their own bodies. It further argues that by purifying the sex-love passion, society can instill a new type of individualism that will lead to liberation and democracy.

The second pamphlet, "Woman," is broken into three segments in the book, but its basic argument is that the disempowerment of woman in society results from a sort of elaborate reconfiguration of feudal relations that attempt to keep woman as a serf in relationship to man, the master.

The final pamphlet on marriage argues that this particular social configuration is designed, again, to maintain a set of feudal relations between men and women, and that true economic liberation will happen only through an abolishment of it.

The Intermediate Sex comprises Carpenter's pamphlet on homogenic love, as well as a number of essays he wrote on homosexuality for liberal British journals between 1897 and 1899. The book is divided into four essays.

The introduction and the first essay, "The Intermediate Sex," argue that through both social and natural evolution, sex has outgrown its simple biological purposes, and that increased instances of ""--Carpenter's term for homosexuality--represent the evolution of a distinctive third sex designed to lead society into a new set of social relations.

The second essay, "The Homogenic Attachment," is a survey of the history of homosexuality and of the current theorists of homosexuality, including Krafft-Ebing, Moll, Ulrichs, Ellis, and Symonds. It ends with a tribute to Whitman's democratic visions of "calamitic" love and suggests this as an alternative means of explaining the place of the Uranist in society.

The final two essays, "Affection in Education" and "The Place of the Uranian in Society," discuss how to structure various social institutions around the concept of democratic male bonding derived from Whitman's writings.

The Intermediate Types Among Primitive Folk comprises two separate essays. The first, "The Intermediate in the Service of Religion," originally appeared as "On the Connection between Homosexuality and Divination" in the American Journal of Religious Psychology in 1911. In 1914, Carpenter added a second essay, "The Intermediate as Warrior," and the book was published.

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