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Fear of Flying [Paperback]

Erica Jong
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 4, 2003

The 30th Anniversary special!

Originally published in 1973, the ground-breaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation—and sold more than twelve million copies. Now, after thirty years, the iconic novel still stands as a timeless tale of self-discovery, liberation, and womanhood.


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Editorial Reviews

From Bookforum

For all of its class-bound preoccupations and the cramped horizons of its political vision, Fear of Flying does remain an important document, of both the literature and the emerging gender protest of its age. Its greatest triumph is the depiction of a female psyche battling the forces of loneliness while still yearning for pleasure. It’s a brilliant portrayal of how differently women experience existentialism, romance, and solitude. —Natasha Vargas-Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“Fearless and fresh.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

“A picaresque, funny, touching adventure of Isadora Wing… on the run from her psychoanalyst husband, in
quest of joy and her own true self.” —New York Review of Books

“Extraordinary…at once wildly funny and very wise.”
 —Los Angeles Times

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade; Reprint edition (November 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451209435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451209436
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

(Bio used www.ericajong.com)
Erica Jong--novelist, poet, and essayist--has consistently used her craft to help provide women with a powerful and rational voice in forging a feminist consciousness. She has published 21 books, including eight novels, seven volumes of poetry, six books of non-fiction and numerous articles in magazines and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Sunday Times of London, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal.
In her groundbreaking first novel, Fear of Flying (20 million in print around the world in more than forty languages), she introduced Isadora Wing, who also plays a central part in three subsequent novels--How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, and Any Woman's Blues. In her three historical novels--Fanny, Shylock's Daughter, and Sappho's Leap--she demonstrates her mastery of eighteenth-century British literature, the verses of Shakespeare, and ancient Greek lyric, respectively. Erica's latest book, a memoir of her life as a writer, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life, came out in March 2006. It was a national bestseller in the US and many other countries.
A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia University's Graduate Faculties where she received her M.A. in 18th Century English Literature, Erica Jong also attended Columbia's graduate writing program where she studied poetry with Stanley Kunitz and Mark Strand. In 2008, continuing her long-standing relationship with the university, a large collection of Erica's archival material was acquired by Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where it will be available to graduate and undergraduate students. Ms. Jong plans to teach master classes at Columbia and also advise the Rare Book Library on the acquisition of other women writers' archives.

Calling herself "a defrocked academic," Ms. Jong has partly returned to her roots as a scholar. She has taught at Ben Gurion University in Israel, Bennington College in the U.S., Breadloaf Writers' Conference in Vermont and many other distinguished writing programs and universities. She loves to teach and lecture, though her skill in these areas has sometimes crowded her writing projects. "As long as I am communicating the gift of literature, I'm happy," Jong says. A poet at heart, Ms. Jong believes that words can save the world.

Known for her commitment to women's rights, authors' rights and free expression, Ms. Jong is a frequent lecturer in the U.S. and abroad. She served as president of The Authors' Guild from 1991 to 1993 and still serves on the Board. She established a program for young writers at her alma mater, Barnard College. The Erica Mann Jong Writing Center at Barnard teaches students the art of peer tutoring and editing.
Erica Jong was honored with the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature. She has also received Poetry magazine's Bess Hokin Prize, also won by W.S. Merwin and Sylvia Plath. In France, she received the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence and in Italy, she received the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature. The City University of New York awarded Ms. Jong an honorary PhD at the College of Staten Island. In June 2009, Erica won the first Fernanda Pivano Prize for Literature in Italy.

Currently Ms. Jong is working on a novel featuring "a woman of a certain age." Its working title is secret. Fear of Flying is in preparation as a BBC mini-series. Her first anthology, Sugar In My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex, will be published on June 14th, 2011.
Erica Jong lives in New York City and Weston, CT with her husband, attorney Ken Burrows, and standard poodle, Belinda Barkowitz. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also a writer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
96 of 106 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable gift to women everywhere. October 17, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book when I was fourteen because I thought it would be sexy. I scanned the book for dirty parts, then shelved it when I couldn't find anything very steamy and returned to the bodice-rippers under my mom's bed. Many years later, I opened the book as a different person. Married, childless, and still confused about what I should do with my life, Isadora Wing spoke straight to my heart. I laughed at myself when I learned that FOF does have a few sexual encounters, but they tend to be awkward, disappointing, and often uncomfortable. No wonder I didn't notice them when I first thumbed through. I was looking for the descriptions of perfect and seamless couplings found in romance novels, and that sort of language just wasn't there, accept for in Isadora Wing's fantasies about the "zipless f---". Isadora has big ideas, firm convictions, passions, but is often held back with fear and insecurity. The plot of the book is not nearly as important or engaging as Isadora's ruminations on love, sex, hypocrise, and searching for good examples of women to look up to. I think every woman should read this book, especially if she is married and getting just a little bit itchy. If it's really bad, have your husband read it, too.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite so shocking in the 90s December 22, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this book in my mother's garage about 3 years ago, when I was 18. I admit that I was interested in it because of the sexy cover quotes like "steamy!" and "shocking!"
I read it. And it's turned out to be one of my favorite books. Not because it got me hot and bothered.. it wasn't any more "steamy" than an episode of NYPD blue, but because I found myself identifying so much with Isadora's plight... her urge to find herself, to balance her love for her husband with her urge to find the "zipless f***" and to do it all in a society that frowned upon a healthy sexual appetite in women.
Some people have found that the novel is self-serving and self-righteous, but not a drop of that came through to me. As a matter of fact, I was shocked to hear it!
I loved the book and I think most young women would too - which is why you're hearing a heartfel reccomendation from me!
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104 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Novel Retains Its Place in History. July 23, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I get a little peeved when I read some reviews of this novel passing it off as some sort of salacious, "Peyton Place"-ish trifle meant to shock midwestern Americans. The truth is, over thirty years since its appearance, that the reviews Henry Miller and John Updike offered were no less than prophetic. The book is a genuine work of literary art and craft, frank but necessarily so in the same way "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was. Jong's style is compelling; her opinions, questions, and searches for her character's validations are no less valuable today. Perhaps a good portion of people were in a more open state of mind in the early seventies, more willing to experiment with lifestyle, substances, morality, even music and art. But are people today in less need of this kind of open consciousness? One only needs to examine the current political climate to see that we're heading for a revisionist version of McCarthyism. So perhaps the views expressed in "Fear of Flying" bear reexamination.
This book has so many ways to praise it one hardly knows where to begin. But as a man too young to read it in 1973, I am profoundly grateful to Ms. Jong for the opportunity to read and grow with it now and, no doubt, many times in the future (seeing it back in print, I quickly purchased 3 copies to get me through several more planned readings in the coming years). This edition features the new 2002 afterword by the author, which is invaluable. Jong's perspective on the value of the book, its uncertain early history, publishing stats, and humbling effect on the lady herself add to the novel's resonance. This may be told from a much-needed woman's persepective, but I refuse to label it as "women's" or "feminine" lit. This towering work should not be so conveniently monikered. Its far too challenging, and important, for that. How about simply "classic"?
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thirty year journey that is true today in 2003!!! August 4, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I saw the book in one of those big franchise book stores and the cover caught my eye, white with a zipper half unzipped revealing red underneath. Now that I have read "Fear of Flying" the cover seems very symbolic and provacative just like the book.
From the dedication to the afterword I was captivated by this book, a true literary work about a woman seeking self. It is not a chick lit book but true literature. I couldn't beleive I missed this book all my life, I am in my early thirties and had never heard about it but wish I had it starting in my teens.
Every woman, every man should read this book it gives great insight on the insecurities of women. From sentence one I felt like Isadora Zelda White Wing spoke to me of my own doubts and emotional struggles. All of a sudden I was not alone...I was not lost, her journey was mine and mine hers.
This book was about getting your passion back along with your identity, not sex or fantasies as so many want to dwell on. Although she is very candid about her sexual exploits(Isadora's) and the language is very forward but its relevent to the story.
As a woman, I can say that the idea of the zipless f...k has had an appeal but after reading her encounters with Dr. Goodlove you have to re-address your impulses and figure out what you really are looking for. I think that was the true teaching of this book........find out who you really are not what or who defines you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars what a waste of money and time
Horribly boring, stopped reading because it had me falling asleep
Please someone ,tell me its worth the time to keep reading
So unhappy
Heard nothing but good things... Read more
Published 2 days ago by sandra maertens
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Takes a while to really be a good read
Published 19 days ago by spiridoula sanchez
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
So bored with it, that I did even finish it.
Published 27 days ago by Renee Manzetti
3.0 out of 5 stars All fluff, no heart
I didn't read this when it first came out in the 70s, and I guess it was kind of earth-shattering then, but to me it just read more like: memoir (disguised as a novel) of a spoiled... Read more
Published 1 month ago by jp
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It' s a book that is still worth reading.
Published 1 month ago by alessandra butté
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story. I liked the way Jong allowed us ...
Good story. I liked the way Jong allowed us inside the head of the character (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cyn.D.J.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fear of choosing between stuffy husband and bad boy
This book was quite controversial when it first came out, so I probably would have given it 5 stars back then. Read more
Published 1 month ago by MRC
4.0 out of 5 stars ... f word and her sexual exploits she does a great job of explaining...
While she overdoes the f word and her sexual exploits she does a great job of explaining the womens' dilemma in a man's world. Jim
Published 2 months ago by Jim Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best writers. A quick read
One of the best writers. A quick read, interesting and provocative, but marred by a loathsome word. But she can really write.
Published 2 months ago by Virginia Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart, Sexy and Brutally Honest
I really enjoyed the book, in the unfortunate "50 Shades" generation, this book is refreshingly intelligent and reminisces pop culture with endless classic literature and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kendall
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