From the fiery intellectual provocateur - and one of our most fearless advocates of gender equality - a brilliant, urgent essay collection that both celebrates modern feminism and challenges us to build an alliance of strong women and strong men.
Ever since the release of her seminal first book, Sexual Personae, Camille Paglia has remained one of feminism's most outspoken, independent, and searingly intelligent voices. Now, for the first time, her best essays on the subject are gathered together in one concise volume. Whether she's calling for equal opportunity for American women (years before the founding of the National Organization for Women), championing a more discerning standard of beauty that goes beyond plastic surgery's quest for eternal youth, lauding the liberating force of rock and roll, or demanding free and unfettered speech on university campuses and beyond, Paglia can always be counted on to get to the heart of matters large and small. At once illuminating, witty, and inspiring, these essays are essential listening that affirm the power of men and women and what we can accomplish together.
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Paglia at her best
It's completely different than my usual purchase and I was a little worried it might be static theory but listening to this is like listening to her fantastically electric lectures. She really is a fabulous wordsmith. The sentences are epic, and always with a sense of humour. More than anything I love when she ruminates on art. Her scope is enormous. No one like her. I had a blast listening.
The Audible is better than the book!
Just hearing Paglia’s voice is a treat. Think of all the books you’ve read, authors you admire whose voices you’ve never heard. Hearing her voice read her own words brings them to life. You hear the words as she intends, with inflection and intonation for emphasis. You hear her get fired up reading passages about third wave feminism’s anti-sex attitudes in “The Modern Battle of the Sexes.” You hear her disdain for Gloria Steinem and Andrea Dworkin in “The Return of Carry Nation.” She reveals her own internal conflict between desire and contempt where fashion, art, function and feminism meet in “The Stiletto Heel.” What is revealed in her words is illuminated tenfold in her voice as she reads.
Paglia’s love of art and performance is clear in her work. Sexual Personae is a massive book about the performance of sexuality — how we present ourselves and how we are perceived by others. I got the impression that her lectures, both in the classroom and out, are energetic and imploring. She uses her voice like an instrument to grab the listener’s attention. There is a theatrical aspect of her reading that is entertaining and engaging. I have never heard a voice actor infuse the reading of a book with so much passion, heart and intensity. Only the author herself could do this, and Paglia, being a passionate and intense woman, does it so well.
When you hear Paglia‘s reading of “The MIT Lecture” when she tears Naomi Wolf to shreds, it is almost as if Paglia is in the lecture hall, presenting the lecture live, for the first time. Paglia taps into the energy and emotion of the words to present them to us as if they have never been presented before. She infuses her words and voice with a thrilling emotion and fire.
In between the chapters, Paglia shares, in a very casual impromptu manner, personal anecdotes that give context to her essays. Whether it is her early desire to “invent an assertive female voice as aggressive as any voice by men” as is her young goal as a writer, (which she clearly accomplished!) that she discusses at the beginning of the book, or her anecdote about the unconscious mind at work after “Venus of Willendorf” where she describes her inspiration coming seemingly out of nowhere or the context she provides about her bitter rivalry with Steinam, the anecdotes bring another layer of understanding to Paglia, and these are only available in the audio version.
- Kitten Holiday