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Germaine Greer : The Beautiful Boy Hardcover – Illustrated, November 15, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (November 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847825868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847825868
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 8.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Greer has made a career of the controversial polemic, most explosively in the 1970s with The Female Eunuch, brazenly arguing for women's sexual liberation. Decades later, the Australian-born sensualist seeks to redress another wrong: heterosexual women's insensitivity to the boy as sexual object. Considering the utter fetishization of contemporary youth culture, it's difficult to sustain the argument that nubile lads are being neglected. But the present day isn't the volume's strength; the most modern icons include Elvis, Boy George, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison and Robert Plant-nary a boy band member. The more compelling passages investigate shifting representations in classical art-Cupid first depicted as sly aggressor, seducing his own mother, only to be desexualized in the more restrictive 19th century, conveniently cloaked by a drape or angel wing. Except for a final chapter that glosses over the works of female artists, Greer hardly plunges into her initial aim "to advance women's reclamation of their capacity for and right to visual pleasure." What does it mean for women to sexualize dewy, girlish boys created by male artists? To swoon over Caravaggio's provocative urchins, Michelangelo's languorous Dying Slave or Eakins's supple-skinned bathers? It's not clear, but then nuance has never really interested Greer. Short on argument but long on lush reproductions of languid young men, the collection is better viewed than read. 200 color and b/w photographs and illustrations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The author of the feminist classic The Female Eunuch (1970) aims (in part) "to advance women's reclamation of their capacity for and right to visual pleasure" by encouraging women to gaze with desire at naked boys, mature enough for sex but too young to shave. Such nudes abound in Western art from pre-Hellenic times onward because, among other things, they were deemed sexually safe for men in patriarchal societies to look at. As Greer demonstrates with intelligence and dash throughout this near-immaculate (if her description is correct, one image is laterally reversed) book, they reward the mind as well as the eye. Her text considers them topically and historically, arguing that while the boy was long the preferred vehicle for celebrating human beauty in art, different meanings attached to the boy in different eras and contexts. Inevitably, what Greer sees in certain pictures doesn't square with what the excellent reproductions show, but that never subverts her arguments or blunts her points. If this is radical feminist art criticism, bully for it! Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I guess this book kind of reveals the dobbelt standard in parts of society.
cathmont
In the case of *this* book, one might read the text out of curiosity, but if you choose to, beware; Ms. Greer, as has been mentioned, likes to 'court controversy'.
CC
Anyway, she wrote, "boys of 14 vary; many of them are sexually mature young men, suffering not from shyness but from sexual longing".
Everaldo R. Santos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By CC on October 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The cover is misleading, but I, for one wasn't disappointed by the contents: paintings and sculpture, mostly, with a smattering of photos.

In the case of *this* book, one might read the text out of curiosity, but if you choose to, beware; Ms. Greer, as has been mentioned, likes to 'court controversy'. It may offend.

Politics aside, this is a gorgeous book for anyone who loves to look at boys. Adorable little boys with rosy cheeks, bigger boys just starting to mature, teenage boys in the gorgeous bloom of youth, and older boys on the verge of manhood. It is the *images* that are of the greatest value here. Not a bald head in sight. This book shows males in all their beauty (yes, beauty) and glory; a rare occurrence, yet a thing that has been done innumerable times in the case of women. Buy this gem of a collection and let them shine for you!
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79 of 107 people found the following review helpful By "specialvixen" on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I buy a lot of photography books and was recommended this book by Amazon. It didn't have a lot of reviews at the time but I thought the cover image/design was interesting and expected a book that would have a lot of photos as well as some writings about the above mentioned subject.
Imagine my surprise when I'm flipping through the book and find it's mostly reproductions of old masters paintings with only a few dozen examples of photography at best. Germaine Greer (I'm not that familiar with her other writings) writes well and obviously has done her research, but I feel the cover is misleading as it makes you think it's a photography book when it's not. The modern photographic style and typography on the cover doesn't reflect the contents of the book accurately as she mostly writes about young males depicted in PAINTINGS. This feels more like a book you'd buy for an Art History class in College than a coffee table book (which was the impression I got.)
I'm not that horribly disappointed as I do like to read too and was pleasantly absorbed in the history and politics of "the female gaze", but don't buy it if you are expecting a photography book.
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE BEAUTIFUL BOY by noted writer, critic and feminist Germaine Greer is one of the more refreshing art volumes to grace the shelves in the past decade. Yes, this is a lavishly illustrated portfolio of paintings, drawings and photographs of boys before they become men, but the point of departure here is that Greer is examining a perception process among women paralleling the historic depiction of the beautiful boy. This, then, is an historic survey, but it is also a psychosocial treatise written with careful attention to detail, wry humor, and joyful discovery. This book deserves a very wide audience.
Setting the mood for her lovely thought process, Greer opens her introduction with these words: "Part of the purpose of this book is to advance women's reclamation of their capacity for and right to visual pleasure. The nineteenth century denied women any active interest in sex, which was only to be found in degenerate types. By the end of the twentieth century female appetite for sexual stimulus had been recognized and platoons of male strippers mobilized to take commercial advantage of it. That health appetite should now be refined by taste. If we but lift our eyes to the beautiful images of young men that stand all about us, there is a world of complex and civilized pleasure to be had. Delight in the boy can only be sharpened by the pathos and irony of his condition of becomingness. What we see in life is gone before we have had time to appreciate it. It is only in art that the compelling evanescent charm of boyhood can be preserved against the ravages of time."
Greer then proceeds to present her illustrated point of view of the prominence of the boy nude as the epitome of beauty, drawn from life long before the idealized female nudes were depicted from artists' imagination.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Windsor on December 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you purchase this book with the knowledge that it is not a book of photographs, but a stunning collection of artwork images throughout the ages, you will not be disappointed. Agree with Greer's text or not, the works presented are beautifully reproduced and there are many of them.

I would challenge the reviewer who claimed this is not a coffee table book. It is precisely that. Not just for it's imagery, but for the conversations it can lead to.

I am extremely pleased with this purchase.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chris Swanson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Germaine Greer once wrote a book called The Female Eunuch. This time she goes a slightly different course and writes a book in praise of adolescent male beauty called, appropriately enough, "The Beautiful Boy". Those who know me will won't be surprised to hear that, although I haven't read "The Female Eunuch", I've read "The Beautiful Boy" and found it to be most interesting.

Greer's point through this book is that, throughout history, adolescent boys have been used as the ideal of beauty. She sites works by several major artists, particularly Caravaggio, in support of this theory and icnludes pictures of many of their better known paintings and sculptures. She even sites works where the subject is female, but the model was clearly a boy.

Overall the thrust of this seems to be that it's perfectly fine for older women (such as herself, I'm guessing), to lust after adolescent boys and view them through a sexual lens. I actually don't have much of a problem with this, which again won't surprise anyone who knows me. I do think it somewhat of an odd topic for her to be tackling, but that's ok.

The book itself is nicely put together, with several boys inside who are, well, nicely put together. The writing is clear and conscise, and the pictures inside are really easy on the eyes. It makes for a good coffee-table book if you're someone who doesn't care what visitors to your house think. It's a book for a niche audience (such as those who appreciate the works of Will McBride and Larry Clark), but if you're part of that audience, you'll probably enjoy it and find it worth the price. Otherwise, you'll probably want to wash your eyes after reading the book.
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