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The Vagina Monologues Paperback – December 26, 2007

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Editorial Reviews Review

"I say vagina because I want people to respond," says playwright Eve Ensler, creator of the hilarious, disturbing soliloquies in The Vagina Monologues, a book based on her one-woman play. And respond they do--with horror, anger, censure, and sparks of wonder and pleasure. Ensler is on a fervent mission to elevate and celebrate this much mumbled-about body part. She asked hundreds of women of all ages a series of questions about their vaginas (What do you call it? How would you dress it?) that prompt some wondrous answers. Standouts among the euphemisms are tamale, split knish, choochi snorcher, Gladys Siegelman--Gladys Siegelman?--and, of course, that old standby "down there." "Down there?" asks a composite character springing from several older women. "I haven't been down there since 1953. No, it had nothing to do with [American president] Eisenhower." Two of the most powerful pieces include a jagged poem stitched together from the memories of a Bosnian woman raped by soldiers and an American woman sexually abused as a child who reclaims her vagina as a place of wild joy. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ensler's powerful, funny, incisive, insightful meditation on one of the most proscribed, vilified, taboo-tainted, shame-shrouded bodily organs in our phallocratic culture is based on personal reminiscences and on interviews with dozens of women of various religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Its topics include the many attitudes women have about their vaginas, ranging from fear to fascination, and the ways those attitudes reflect and influence attitudes about sexuality, health, body image, and even spirituality. Even in the wrong hands--say, of a dry academician--Ensler's material would be enlightening. Fortunately, Ensler is first and foremost a storyteller and has fashioned her material into a highly readable script in which interviews are distilled to pithy brevity or reformatted as emotionally charged prose poems. Reading it, it is not hard to see why the off-Broadway one-woman show Ensler also crafted from its material met with critical and popular success and won Ensler a coveted Obie award. Jack Helbig --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345498607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345498601
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eve Ensler is a Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist. She is the author of international phenomenon, The Vagina Monologues, which won an Obie and has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve wrote the New York Times Bestseller, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World. She then adapted it as a play which ran to critical acclaim in South Africa, Paris, Berkeley and Off-Broadway. She is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over 100 million dollars for grassroots organizations around the world. On V-Day's 15th Anniversary, it launched it's most ambitious campaign One Billion Rising which inspired one billion people in 207 countries to Strike Dance and Rise on Feb 14, 2013 for the freedom, safety and equality of women. With the women of Congo, V-Day opened and supports City of Joy in Bukavu, Congo, a revolutionary center where survivors of gender violence Turn Their Pain to Power. Eve starred in the HBO version of The Vagina Monologues. Her play Here was filmed live by Sky Television in London, UK. She co-produced the documentary What I Want My Words to You which won the Freedom of Expression Award at Sundance. Her other plays include Necessary Targets, The Treatment and The Good Body, which she performed on Broadway, followed by a national tour. In 2006, Eve released her book, Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir, and co-edited A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer. Her newest book In The Body of the World will be published by Holt. Ensler lives in the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Gibson ( on August 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a life changer. I read it six months ago and I cannot believe how much it has liberated me and my attitude towards my body. Like everyone says, you cannot put it down once you begin reading it. Ensler talks about the things I've kept hidden. I never knew just how central to my life my vagina is. A chapter about menstruation, my god, people talk about this? A chapter about orgasm and hair and the fear we have of our own body. The part we never like to talk about. The chapter on birth is amazing, and until then I never knew how complex the woman's vagina is. For a woman of 22, this is a very important read. If you ever get to see her read from The Vagina Monologues, go. She puts on an amazing show. Some people think it's simple but I feel it's life-changing. I would be a very different person without it and not many books can have that kind on impact.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful By E. Barteldes on August 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up the book in a local bookstore before the media here started paying attention to the play, which has recently opened in Brazil.
First of all, I was amused by the title. What would a vagina have to say? As a man, I could understand some female sensitivities, since men are a minority in my family. The Brazilian edition of the book has a microphone placed in front of a female pubis, and that surely looked funny to me.
I showed it to my wife, but she didn't have much of a positive reaction due to her conservative upbringing(she tries, though), but when I read her one of the stories she was amused
A few weeks later "The Vagina Monologues"was all the rage here. The Brazilian version of the play(directed and adapted by actor/director Miguel Falabella) opened in Rio de Janeiro, and suddenly everyone was talking about it. Even Eve Ensler, the author of the play, gave an interview to a local newsmagazine directed to the female public. One could not turn on the TV or open a newspaper without stumbling into a Vagina Monologues comment.
I havent (as of this writing) yet seen the play, but I found reading the book very enjoyable. It is a collection of very short stories related to various vagina-related subjects, such as the discovery of pleasure, childbirth, and even rape. There are also a few facts of the vagina world.
Personally, there are two favorite stories, in my opinion. The first is a married woman who dislikes having her pubic hairs shaved - she feels like a child when it is done to her, and the story on rape; the metaphorical description is so clear that brings tears to one's eyes.
As any other collection, there are also a bad moments - the introductiuon is sometimes annoying, for it reads like an outdated sixties feminist chant - but, all in all, the play, as a reading piece, is utterly enjoyable.
Bottom line: A good piece for both women and men, regardless of sexual option
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I told my mother we were performing _The Vagina Monologues_ for V-Day 2000, she said, "What? What a disgusting thing to do!" That is exactly why _The Vagina Monologues_ must be read and performed -- to help us get over the disgust we have about our vaginas.
The variety of monologues in the book is incredible; Eve Ensler has created several personas that all tell you about their vaginas and their associated experiences. The monologues are well ordered -- the moods change from one to the other, with little overlap -- and you'll likely laugh, cry, squirm, cry, then laugh again.
Buy it, read it, share it.
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128 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought The Vagina Monologues prepared to be wowed, moved, and forever changed. After all, isn't that what happens to every woman who reads The Vagina Monologues? Well, not for me.
The first problem that I had with this book is that it simply doesn't work well as a book. I didn't laugh. I didn't cry. I didn't anything. The monologues are written as performance pieces and simply don't stand up without the performance. It isn't their fault, just the nature of the thing. As a sidenote; I was able to see the monologues sometime late, which really brought home the point to me - it needs women to make it come alive.
The second problem that I had with The Vagina Monologues was that I felt it missed the mark. As with so much feminist literature it mixes up freeing women/relieving oppression with a sort of 'no holds barred' abandonment of any type of morality. As a result, I have very mixed feelings about the monologues. I feel some are very important and need to be heard by more people (such as the monologue which illustrates why rape as a tactic of systematic warfare is a very bad idea). That monologue (for me) speaks to the idea of acknowledging women's suffering and seeking to do something to stop it. On the other hand, I felt that some of the monologues were in very bad taste that borders on criminal. I'm thinking specifically of a monologue which details how a grown woman makes love (I call it molests) a thirteen year old girl. I'm sorry if I seem too conservative for the times, but I don't see how it is liberating to women to be commiting pedophelia upon them.
Which brings me to another point about The Vagina Monologues. The author's message of freeing women from the bonds of oppression gets all mixed up with a 'lesbians are good' message.
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47 of 56 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book had to be the most amazing book I have read in years. I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was finished. What Eve Ensler has done to reclaim the word "vagina" and make it ours again it both breathtaking and brave. She has started the break down of so many sexual and societal barriers and has started the road to shameless sexual sucess. But the book is not only about having better sex and knowing how to please yourself. It is about becoming more comfortable with being a woman and knowing who you are and where to locate all of your parts. I have been waiting for a book like this for years and I am so proud that it should come in such a wonderful form as the beautiful and moving poetry/prose of this wonderful author. To any man or woman who feels that they know everything there is to know abot a woman's vagina, read this book. It will not only change your views but it will rock your world. I'm in love with this book. Well done.
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