How to be multiple

The philosophy of twins

By Helena de Bres

How to be multiple
Hardcover -
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526179869
  • Publish Date: Mar 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526179852
  • Publish Date: Mar 2024
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: Hardcover
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-7986-9
    • Pages: 272
    • Price: £20.00
    • Published Date: March 2024


    In How to be multiple, Helena de Bres - a twin herself - argues that twinhood is a unique lens for examining our place in the world and how we relate to other people. The way we think about twins offers remarkable insights into some of the deepest questions of our existence, from what is a person? to how should we treat one another?

    Deftly weaving together literary and cultural history, philosophical enquiry and personal experience, de Bres examines such thorny issues as binary thinking, objectification, romantic love and friendship, revealing the limits of our individualistic perspectives.

    In this illuminating, entertaining book, wittily illustrated by her twin sister, de Bres ultimately suggests that to consider twinhood is to imagine the possibility of a more interconnected, capacious human future.


    'Stunning ... In fluid prose, de Bres gracefully clarifies philosophical notions for the lay reader, and her own observations as an identical twin invigorate the book's emotional center while leaving room for the many unsolved mysteries of identity, kinship, and closeness. This will challenge the way readers see the world.'
    Publishers Weekly

    'A collection of engaging essays about binarization, identity, love, free will, objectification, and the depiction and understanding of twins in literature, art, philosophy, psychology, and popular culture ... A thoughtful, well-rendered collection of musings on identity.'
    Kirkus Reviews

    'This study of twinhood sits at the intersection of the intellectual and the personal - philosopher Helena de Bres is a twin herself, attuned to the uncanniness of being a twin as both a scholar and a sister.'
    The Millions

    'Lucid, curious, and deeply felt, How to be multiple is a work of philosophy, an autobiography of twindom, and a captivating exploration of selfhood. Most of us are not twins, but we all know duality, and de Bres uses her exceptional condition as a lens to examine what makes us distinct and what we all share. What a fun, gorgeous book.'
    Melissa Febos, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Girlhood and Body Work

    'Helena de Bres has written a brilliant, surprising, and philosophically complex exploration of what it means to be a twin, but more than that - she's written a book that has transformed my understanding of what it means to be both one-of-a-kind and intimately connected to another human being. Profoundly illuminating, insightful, funny, and moving - How to be multiple is a must-read.'
    Chloé Cooper Jones, author of Easy Beauty

    'What is it like to be an identical twin? To know someone with such uncanny intimacy? To see another possible life with your genes played out? De Bres raises so many thrillingly mind-bending existential questions that she convinces you that twinship is a crucial key to understanding how we love and who we are.'
    Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning

    'De Bres aims to rescue twins from the gothic, from horror movies, and from singleton scrutiny, the better to return our gaze and testify to the experience of twindom from the inside out.[She] stitches the project together with brio, a sense of stupefied luck at having a twin, and an insistence that anyone can reap similar benefits by acknowledging our interdependence, relaxing the need to believe in our singularity.'
    Parul Sehgal, The New Yorker

    '[De Bres] draws on her own experience as a way to explore mind-body boundaries and the nature of individualism and autonomy....As an identical twin, Ms de Bres describes in fascinating detail the ways in which her twin's thoughts and her own--and their physical experiences--seem to merge.'
    Christine Rosen, Wall Street Journal

    'There's no doubt queer people face much more social stigma than twins do, but using the lens of society's erroneous beliefs about twinship can help deconstruct our culture's most fallacious thoughts about queerness and what it means to be a queer person.'
    Stef Rubino, Autostraddle

    'A thought-provoking collection of personal essays that delves into the complexities of twinhood. De Bres' unique perspective, as both a Professor of Philosophy and identical twin, allows her to skilfully navigate themes of identity, autonomy, relationships, justice and power, in relation to life as a multiple.'
    Larissa Jordan, Chairperson of the Australian Multiple Birth Association


    Twins in Wonderland
    1 Which one are you?
    2 How many of you are there?
    3 Are you two in love?
    4 How free are you?
    5 What are you for?


    Helena de Bres is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College, where she researches and teaches ethics, philosophy of literature and political theory. She is the author of Artful Truths: The Philosophy of Memoir (2021). Helena has published essays in The New York Times, The Point, Aeon, Psyche, Brevity, The Los Angeles Review and Another Chicago Magazine. She is on the editorial board of The Raven, a new magazine of philosophical essays.

    Julia de Bres is a freelance illustrator and a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at Massey University. She analyses how minority groups use language to resist social inequalities and illustrates the results of her research. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

    How to be multiple

    By Helena de Bres

    Hardcover £20.00 / $29.95

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