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Sexual personae : art and decadence from…
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Sexual personae : art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (original 1990; udgave 1991)

af Camille Paglia

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,047177,985 (3.81)36
In this brilliantly original book, Camille Paglia identifies some of the major patterns that have endured in western culture from ancient Egypt and Greece to the present. According to Paglia, one source of continuity is paganism, which, undefeated by Judeo-Christianity, continues to flourish in art, eroticism, astrology, and pop culture. Others, she says, are androgyny, sadism, and the aggressive western eye, which has created our art and cinema. Paglia follows these and other themes from Nefertiti and the Venus of Willendorf to Apollo and Dionysus, from Botticelli and Michaelangelo to Shakespeare and Blake and finally to Emily Dickinson, who, along with other major nineteenth-century authors, becomes a remarkable example of Romanticism turned into Decadence. Paglia offers provocative views of literature, art history, psychology, and religion. She focuses, for example, on the amorality, voyeurism, and pornography in great art that have been ignored or glossed over by most critics. She discusses sex and nature as brutal daemonic forces, and she criticizes feminists for sentimentality or wishful thinking about the causes of rape, violence, and poor relations between the sexes. She stressed the biologic basis of sex differences and sees the mother as an overwhelming force who condemns men to lifelong sexual anxiety, from which they escape through rationalism and physical achievement. She examines the culture and style of modern male homosexuals. She demonstrates how much of western life, art, and thought is ruled by personality, which she traces through recurrent types or personae such as the female vampire (Medusa, Lauren Bacall); the pythoness (the Dephic oracle, Gracie Allen); the beautiful boy (Hadrian's Antinous, Dorian Gray); the epicene man of beauty (Lord Byron, Elvis Presley); and the male heroine (Baudelaire, Woody Allen). Her book will stimulate and awe readers everywhere.… (mere)
Medlem:gabybee
Titel:Sexual personae : art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson
Forfattere:Camille Paglia
Info:New York : Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1991.
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

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Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson af Camille Paglia (1990)

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Viser 1-5 af 17 (næste | vis alle)
I recently reread this book, and found it even more enjoyable than I had remembered. Obviously Paglia's project--a unifiied theory of Western culture--is bound to fall short, but it's impossible for me not to admire her ambition. She writes with an energetic style; at times she might be guilty of piling on too many metaphors and similes, but it's almost as though, in her exuberance, she can't help herself. In many respects she must certainly be regarded as well ahead of her time (the dissertation on which this book is based was submitted in 1974): she predicted, through the study of what she calls the "androgyne" in culture, many subsequent developments in gender and women's studies, ironic as I believe her to be almost universally reviled in those circles.

At over 600 pages, hammering away at the same theme, it might be a bit long, and the last chapters on American literature are perhaps among the least engaging, though it may be that I just became ground down after several hundred pages, or that her subjects chosen from American literature are simply the least suited to her thesis (a possibility she herself acknowledges in comparing American culture to European). When, therefore, she finally arrives at Emily Dickinson, the subject which the title suggests will be the culmination, if not the actual climax, of the entire book, it's almost impossible not to be disappointed because you want so much for it to be more than it is.

All that said, the book is surely a classic, and an engrossing read whether you agree or disagree with her argument. ( )
  gtross | Mar 28, 2024 |
This book is one of my all-time favorites and my favorite of Paglia's. I prefer Paglia the "academic" as opposed to the "media whore" (i.e. as she has expressed herself in her column for Salon.com) as I am at least 50% in disagreement with her political / geopolitical and often right-leaning Libertarian point of view. In "Sexual Personae" she presents herself in full-on scholarly mode, in a way that she has not, unfortunately, repeated since this work was published. I have read this book at least twice; it is rare for me as a reader to return to any text I've read previously. The essence of the work can be summarized via the blurb that appears on the back cover of the paperback edition of "Sexual Personae": "..... [makes] a persuasive case for all art as a pagan battleground between male and female, form and chaos, civilization and daemonic nature" ("daemonic" being a term that appears frequently in this book). Also memorable are Paglia's theory of the artist's metaphysical "sex change" via his / her work of art (a là Coleridge's lesbian vampire / daemon) and the chapter covering Edmund Spenser's "The Fairie Queene", a product of the English Renaissance that I had been unaware of until my discovery of "Sexual Personae" and which I have still not read. "Sexual Personae" also aided me in refining my understanding of the terms "Apollonian" and "Dionysian", in a way that no other writer has besides Nietzsche.

Most importantly, it's Paglia's actual writing that draws me in. Whether or not what she is writing can be substantiated academically, that does not concern me. I inherently believe that Paglia knows what she's talking about. Thus I will close with this quote from page 55 of Chapter 2 ("The Birth of the Western Eye") concerning the statuette "Venus of Willendorf" [circa 30,000 B.C.]:

"Venus of Willendorf carries her cave with her. She is blind, masked. Her ropes of corn-row hair look forward to the invention of agriculture. She has a furrowed brow. Her facelessness is the impersonality of primitive sex and religion. There is no psychology or identity yet, because there is no society, no cohesion. Men cower and scatter at the blast of the elements. Venus of Willendorf is eyeless because nature can be seen but not known. She is remote even as she kills and creates. The statuette, so overflowing and protuberant, is ritually invisible. She stifles the eye. She is the cloud of archaic night." ( )
  stephencbird | Sep 19, 2023 |
This book was more demanding than I expected, but it was intriguing enough that I think I should try to read it again. ( )
  mykl-s | Apr 16, 2023 |
An unclassifiable classic of literary scholarship, this is a provocative work in the best sense of the word. Praised by Harold Bloom for its scope I continually find it a font of interesting and invigorating ideas about much of what I am reading. All of Western culture is on display in ways that you will not find anywhere else. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 20, 2022 |
Lots of interesting stuff here; I wish the author could have been one of my art teachers. Also, when possible it is always fun to contrast her critique of a particular work of art with that of Sister Wendy.

Ms Paglia is a woman who manages to blend common sense with high intelligence. She also isn't afraid to voice a contrary opinion; it was the uppity women who changed history, so go for it, Camille. There is nothing more inspiring to me than an old school, badass bitch who isn't afraid of what other people think or say.

Gotta go get some more of her books. ( )
  Equestrienne | Jan 5, 2021 |
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In this brilliantly original book, Camille Paglia identifies some of the major patterns that have endured in western culture from ancient Egypt and Greece to the present. According to Paglia, one source of continuity is paganism, which, undefeated by Judeo-Christianity, continues to flourish in art, eroticism, astrology, and pop culture. Others, she says, are androgyny, sadism, and the aggressive western eye, which has created our art and cinema. Paglia follows these and other themes from Nefertiti and the Venus of Willendorf to Apollo and Dionysus, from Botticelli and Michaelangelo to Shakespeare and Blake and finally to Emily Dickinson, who, along with other major nineteenth-century authors, becomes a remarkable example of Romanticism turned into Decadence. Paglia offers provocative views of literature, art history, psychology, and religion. She focuses, for example, on the amorality, voyeurism, and pornography in great art that have been ignored or glossed over by most critics. She discusses sex and nature as brutal daemonic forces, and she criticizes feminists for sentimentality or wishful thinking about the causes of rape, violence, and poor relations between the sexes. She stressed the biologic basis of sex differences and sees the mother as an overwhelming force who condemns men to lifelong sexual anxiety, from which they escape through rationalism and physical achievement. She examines the culture and style of modern male homosexuals. She demonstrates how much of western life, art, and thought is ruled by personality, which she traces through recurrent types or personae such as the female vampire (Medusa, Lauren Bacall); the pythoness (the Dephic oracle, Gracie Allen); the beautiful boy (Hadrian's Antinous, Dorian Gray); the epicene man of beauty (Lord Byron, Elvis Presley); and the male heroine (Baudelaire, Woody Allen). Her book will stimulate and awe readers everywhere.

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