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Vamps & Tramps: New Essays Paperback – October 11, 1994


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Vamps & Tramps: New Essays + Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays + Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 11, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679751203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679751205
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Either you like the polysexual, pagan Paglia, or you don't-and this collection by the author of Sexual Personae isn't going to change that. Perfectly aware of her image, Paglia early on compares herself to Ross Perot, Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern, in her "raging egomania and volatile comic personae tending toward the loopy." On this outing, Paglia revisits the same fire hydrants, sniffs the competition and then marks them once more as her own. Pornography continues to be great; Lacanians, bad; Freud, underrated; feminists, undersexed. Although her main essay "No Law in the Arena," is not as solid as "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders," the analysis of academe that anchored Sex, Art, and American Culture, many of her essays expand on her gritty common-sense understanding of the nasty realities of sex. Particularly good are "Rebel Love: Homosexuality"; "Lolita Unclothed" and "Woody Allen Agonistes." Paglia is at her bilious ad feminem best skewering one-time idol Susan Sontag in "Sontag, Bloody Sontag," or Catharine MacKinnon ("the dull instincts and tastes of a bureaucrat") and Andrea Dworkin ("The Girl with the Eternal Cold") in "The Return of Carry Nation." As usual, there's much about tabloid icons-Amy Fisher, Lorena Bobbit, Jackie O-but Paglia herself has become just such an icon, appearing in movies and TV specials whose transcripts she rather tediously includes. Still, when Paglia is good, she is palatable; when Paglia is bad, she's terrific. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Only five "new essays" appear in this second collection from Paglia (Sex, Art, and American Culture, LJ 10/1/92), a hodgepodge of book reviews, television and film scripts, previously published articles, excerpted transcripts to television talk shows and interviews, and other bits and pieces, accompanied by an inventory of press mentions and cartoons offered to document her celebrity. Paglia's overheated expostulations against censorship, "Stalinist feminists," and other bugbears of political correctness are interspersed with fierce arguments in favor of sexual license. Commenting on pop culture, she expounds her libertarian view, rejecting state regulation of abortion, prostitution, sodomy, drug use, and pornography, disdaining state "social-welfare meddling in public education" and "rigid antimale feminist ideology." For Paglia fans.
Cynthia Harrison, Federal Judicial Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
In other words, below average but not a complete waste of time. When I read Camille Paglia's first book, I felt a sense of intellectual and sexual liberation and excitement, as if she were speaking to a part of myself that had lain undiscovered and unexpressed. This book is a huge disappointment: a lame collection of celebrity-worshipping essays, followed by an entire section dedicated to cartoons and media references to her name. I was embarrassed for her after reading this book. Camille Paglia is a woman of formidable intellect, but for all she decries white-tower academia, she is and will always be a product of its privilege and exclusivity. She obviously longs to be a Keith Richards-esque outsider and continuously points out how her various employers have censored and blacklisted her, and I think her books (except for the first, which is a minor masterpiece) are an effort to enforce that image. However, being pro-pornography and pro-abortion aren't exactly revolutionary stages to take, no matter how much our Puritan culture would like people to believe that; rather, they seem a relapse into a very solipsistic, male-oriented world that Paglia is very much a part of--a Testosterone Valhalla in which all that is non-corporeal can be visualized and fetishized (a futile undertaking, if ever there was one!) I am still hopeful that Camille Paglia's next work will put this one to shame.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Chell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Quite simply, Paglia is one of the best literary/cultural critics of the past two decades. Her prose is jargon-free and perpetually potent; her subject range reveals perhaps the singlemost interdisciplinary mind of our generation. Unfortunately, her political "incorrectness" gives those unwilling to be challenged by her insights an excuse not to read her. The mere mention of her name in academic or women's studies circles is enough to insure condemnation of the offender--merely adding substance to her critique of the present state of these two institutions. She is both a shibboleth and a pariah. (I was publicly spanked for invoking her name at a national symposium; then later congratulated privately by several younger women.)
Paglia has many personae. "Vamps and Tramps" may be a suitable introduction for some but it is actually more appropriate for the initiated Paglia-ite. "Vamps" is the "rap-music," "performance-artist" Paglia; "Sex, Art, and Decadence" is the frequently provocative and compelling popular essayist; "Sexual Personae" is the prolix, Nietzschean original thinker; her study of Hitchcock's "The Birds" is the disciplined yet passionate and provocative scholar. Any of these latter three volumes would be preferable as a starter for the reader wishing to discover why Camille can credibly claim the top position among current literary scholars and cultural critics.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tyro on June 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Camille Paglia's image is a blessing and a curse. Like Chris Rock, she can get away with telling the truth about our repressed, hypersensitive culture. Unfortunately, her audience expects her to say shocking things, therefore her broadsides have lost some of their impact. Her enemies, the Mackinnons and Dworkins, won the culture wars long ago. Their beliefs are now written into law, taught in college and inscribed in police procedure manuals. Critics like Paglia are a recognized but ineffectual voice, easily dismissed by the establishment. For these reasons, Ms. Paglia's essays and journalistic pieces may be slightly disappointing. The interviews and transcripts, however, are the real pleasure; they recreate the "dissident feminist" at her fearless, truth-telling best.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
I used to venerate Camille Paglia until I read this book. In it, she shows symptoms of what I call "Ayn Rand's syndrome," in which people believe their own press and imagine themselves as omniscient.
In some of the essays, her old self shines through. In others, she makes fatuous, pseudoscientific pronouncements on such subjects as AIDS and the origin of homosexuality. If she is a biologist, Al Gore invented the Internet.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Owen Keehnen on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
One of the most controversial figures in contemporary society is explosive critic, art historian, pop philosopher, and author Camille Paglia. Her newest collection of essays, VAMPS AND TRAMPS, includes sharpened swords drawn and abruptly driven into the current direction of gay activism, feminist thought, and academia. Her criticism is fierce, at once educated and adolescent, she is a rebel thinker whose mind seems in constant overdrive. She's philsophy with cajones. In addition this book contains her thoughts on all aspects of sex and sexuality, AIDS, prostitution, abortion, rape, and homosexuality. VAMPS AND TRAMPS also contains a blistering essay on Susan Sontag, an examination of Lady Di's popularity, Foucault body-of-work slams, and much more. Never boring, this book of breathless vitality is volcanic. It also contains book reviews, interviews, cartoons, and even her 'Spy' advice column, all executed in her signature bloodthirsty style.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tim Lieder on November 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
This was a book that Paglia released after Sexual Personae when she was still a star but didn't have the energy to write another 700 page all-encompassing artistic theory. In keeping with Paglia's self-image as the rock star that liberated feminism from the extremists like Dworkin, she is following in the foot steps of popular bands that released one huge album after years of toil and then needed to release something else fast so they released either their outtakes, the B-sides or a live album (and in the 90s, most of those live albums were unplugged).

And like Arrested Development's Unplugged Album or the Guns N' Roses acoustic EP, it wasn't meant to be a classic in its own right - just a lot of material slapped together to keep the publisher and the fans happy until the real book came out.

Still, even by those meager standards it's a letdown. There are several reasons why. First, we're no longer in the 90s. Paglia might not have invented pro-sex feminism as she claims, but she certainly knocked Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon from their puritanical pedestals. Still, she takes too much credit and thinks that she can write a superficial article calling one a Lutheran worshiping at the feet of a neurotic Jew and call it a day. (Paglia loves her ethnic stereotypes, choosing to embody the loud Italian so beloved in Hollywood movies from Saturday Night Fever to My Cousin Vinnie) The laziness of the writing is not as noticeable when it's in the service of slaying a dragon and the Dworkin/MacKinnon juggernaut represent a very destructive dragon that was souring many feminists on the whole notion of feminism. But that dragon is dead and we have generations of people online going "make me a sandwich" as if that's witty.
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