“There is a universality to Lili’s question of identity. We all want to be accepted for who we are.”
Find the courage to be yourself.
Author: David Ebershoff
Release Date: 2000
It starts with a question, a simple favour asked by a wife of her husband while both are painting in their studio, setting off a transformation neither can anticipate. Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history, and the woman torn between loyalty to her marriage and her own ambitions and desires.
A shockingly original novel about one of the most unusual and passionate love stories of the 20th century.
Loosely inspired by a groundbreaking true story, The Danish Girl can only be summarized as a delicate, heartwarming and emphatetic novel about the search for one’s true self when the body doesn’t mirror what is on the inside. A novel filled with tenderness, sacrifice and undying and unconditional love.
To read more about the actual Lili and Gerda, click here for the article on telegraph.com, here for Lili’s and here for Gerda’s biographies, or simply Google them.
As beautiful as The Danish Girl is, their life is even more interesting.
Lili Elbe wrote a great deal of the content for a book entitled Man Into Woman, a semi-autobiographical compiled from her diaries and published after her death.
First off, let’s set the records by clarifying the subtle, yet very important difference between “inspired by” and “based on”.
It basically all boils down to degree of fictionalization used to enhance the story:
– inspired by means the story is fiction but the plot was created with an actual event in mind —> REAL LIFE BUT FICTIONALIZED EVENTS;
– based on: means thee story is non-fiction and the events of the story has actually happened —> THE EVENTS ARE NARRATED AS FAITHFULLY AS POSSIBLE, BUT LIBERTIES IN DETAILS WILL BE TAKEN;
I’ve been reading a lot of reviews regarding both The Danish Girl book and movie and I’ve encountered an amount of polemic discussions about the way Lili Elbe and her story have been depicted, about the fact that it makes for “a terrible representation of a trans woman” and a “very poor representation of a trans person’s transition”.
As someone who’s by no means an expert on the subject but merely a compassionate and empathic person who knows that no two human beings are alike, that no situation is lived the same way by two people, I’d like to ask those people, in no polemic way: what do you personally know about transitioning? when you talk about “representation of a trans person”, what do you have in mind?
Just because you have been following Caitlyn Jenner’s case and watched her reality show, doesn’t make you an expert on the matter.
I highly doubt that even a transgender person is an absoluet expert on the matter, since no two “cases” are ever alike in any instance, and they’re the only ones who have a say-so about “representation” and the way they want to be percieved.
Most people in this world don’t know what it’s actually like to transition.
Not me, probably not you, and not David Ebershoff who, for 2000’s standards, did his best to describe the way Einar grapples with his gender identity.
Be it as it may, everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
I just wanted to clarify that this is a work of fiction, even though it has been loosely inspired by a real life story, and not an accurate documentary on the life of Lili Elbe; and that his book was written in 2000 by a man who does not have first-hand experience in the matter he described but still managed to make us ponder on a very important subject and ask ourselves things like “what would you do when the person you love has to change to be who they really are?”.
I resent and heavily dislike when people actively discourage others to not read a book by defining it “a waste of time”.
You did not like it?
You did not agree with it?
Let other people form their own opinion.
That said, while I thought the content of the story compelling, I agree that it could have been better, that I expected more, that it could have gone deeper.
The negative remarks I have about The Danish Girl mainly lie in the way it was executed:
– the way the author described it, Einar’s transition was presented more as a multiple personality disorder since he did not seem to remember what he did as Lili and viceversa.
– the constant shifting of the narrative: annoying and sometimes tiresome;
– the flashbacks to some past event or memory: again, annoying and sometimes tiresome;
– the remarkable implausible accepting attitude of the 1920s: (sadly) unrealistic, even if the story would’ve been set nowadays. It’s utopistic that Einar/Lilli hardly experience persecution or disgust at being transgender;
– too many descriptions (i.e. how many times can you describe an Adam’s Apple?) and thus very slow moving;
It could have gone deeper.
But where the book failed to excel, The Danish Girl shone in the most heartwrenching and emotional way through it’s movie adaptation.
Yes, yet again the movie was better than the book.
The “most unusual and passionate love” which the book blurb “advertises” was portait in the most beautiful manner by both Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.
I have no other word for this movie in general but “beautiful”.
“You make me beautiful, and now you’re making me stong. Such power in you”
MORE GENDER-BENDING BOOKS:
GOLDEN BOY by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband Steve has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.
The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him—once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?
FOR TODAY I AM A BOY by KIM FU
Peter Huang and his sisters—elegant Adele, shrewd Helen, and Bonnie the bon vivant—grow up in a house of many secrets, then escape the confines of small-town Ontario and spread from Montreal to California to Berlin. Peter’s own journey is obstructed by playground bullies, masochistic lovers, Christian ex-gays, and the ever-present shadow of his Chinese father.
At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father’s ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.