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Primitive Passions: Men, Women, and the Quest for Ecstasy Kindle Edition

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Length: 270 pages

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Amazon.com Review

In the 18th and 19th centuries, colonization of so-called "primitive cultures" by Western countries was the way of the world. Powerful nations sought to increase their wealth and power by subjugating the peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Now, in the 20th century, cultures once dismissed as inferior have become a source of fascination to Westerners, who perceive in them a heightened spirituality, stronger sense of community, greater reverence for nature--all the things, in fact, that the West fears it has lost. Marianna Torgovnick, a professor and chair of the English department at Duke University, explores the West's modern quest for ecstasy in the provocative work Primitive Passions.

What makes Professor Torgovnick's book so valuable is how wide she casts her net. New Age philosophy, travel literature--even the movie Dances with Wolves--are all grist for her discussion. C. G. Jung, Isak Dinesen, Georgia O'Keeffe, and D. H. Lawrence populate her chronicle as she examines the different ways men and women respond to primitive ecstasy. Primitive Passions is an intelligent and illuminating survey.

From Library Journal

Torgovnick (English, Duke Univ.) successfully elaborates upon her previous book, Gone Primitive (LJ 6/15/90), which dealt with the Western fascination with primitivism. In the first two sections of her new book, she contrasts Western male and female perceptions of the primitive by analyzing the lives and works of intellectuals and artists ranging from Andre Gide to Georgia O'Keeffe. In the third section, she examines the current Western attraction to primitivism apparent in the widespread admiration of Native American culture and traditions and in the attempts of the men's movement and New Agers to imitate what they perceive to be Native American customs or spirituality. Dividing her book this way effectively allows the reader to see a clear difference in how men and women see the primitive and to admit the possibility that the primitive is still valued in today's Western world. A worthy addition to academic anthropology collections that will also be appreciated both by scholars in literature and gender studies and informed lay readers.?Ximena Chrisagis, Wright State Univ. Lib., Dayton, Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1923 KB
  • Print Length: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (March 6, 2013)
  • Publication Date: March 6, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BE25652
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,799,188 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1997
Format: Hardcover
According to Torgovnick, the modern quest for ecstasy began during the upheavals of World War I, with a dread that Western civilization had taken the demonic turn. She tells the stories of culture icons such as Carl Jung, Isak Dinesen, D. H. Lawrence, and Georgia O'Keeffe as they discovered-whether with horror or relish-the primitive as a medium for soul-searching and personal change. Such persons have become role models, rousing people today who ache to experience what they sense to be humanity's primary meaningful link to the universe. It is this yearning, the desire to transcend the limitations of the body and western culture, as Torgovoick contends, that motivates an astonishing variety of contemporary practices stimulated by the primitive-such as genital piercing, New Age rituals , and the men's movement.
Torgovnick explores the psychology of our profound attraction to cultures we call "primitive." Whether located in Africa, the South Pacific, or the American Southwest, the primitive has become synonymous in the Western imagination with a range of emotions and experiences thought to be lost in modern life: reverence for the land and for nature; strong communal bonds; sexual plenitude; and, perhaps most intriguing, an ecstatic sense of connection to the universe and the life force. Torgovoick investigates the numerous ways we have turned toward the primitive out of spiritual hunger for such deeply human experiences-a hunger that could once be satisfied within the West's own mystical traditions but that often no longer can be.
Written in a flowing, page-turning style. this tour of early twentieth century infatuation with the primitive utilizes many sources to offer a cultural history that is entertaining despite its lack of theoretical insight into our cultural dilemmas.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Robinson on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in college and loved and bought it again so that I could use parts in a high school class I'm teaching...
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