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Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 8, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684803089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684803081
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Despite the flood of sexuality theory and queer cultural studies in 20th-century academia, bisexuality--and the many questions and problems surrounding it--has been little considered. In Vice Versa, Marjorie Garber, director of the Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Harvard University, takes on this enormous project with refreshing academic rigor and compelling enthusiasm. Covering cultural influences from antiquity through early psychoanalysis to such recent provocateurs as Geraldo Rivera and Susie Bright, Garber calls into question the basic underpinnings of even the most radical views of human sexuality. She suggests that bisexuality is "not just another sexual orientation but rather a sexuality that undoes sexual orientation as a category," and leads us through the ensuing ruckus with wit and grace.

Vice Versa offers personal accounts, clinical studies, and analysis from every possible camp to demonstrate Garber's thesis that bisexuality as an idea and an experience "disappears" or is erased from our discussions of sexuality at every turn through the normalizing (not to mention limiting) influence of the terms of the discussion itself. Her call to recognize bisexuality as not only valid but deeply transgressive--and therefore useful--in our culture is urgent and marked by a great affection for her subjects, from Freud to Madonna. "One of the key purposes of studying bisexuality is not to get people to 'admit' they 'are' bisexual," she says, "but rather to restore to them and the people they have loved the full, complex, and often contradictory stories of their lives." --Jessica Peterson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Garber's erudite, provocative study of bisexuality challenges the easy polarities of heterosexual and homosexual, straight and gay. A Harvard professor of English whose books include Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety, she argues that bisexuality can be a mature, adult, sustainable way of living one's sexual life. Instead of being a "third" category, or a period of confusion, oscillation and experimentation, as is often supposed, bisexuality, in her theory, reveals human sexuality to be a continuum, a process of growth and transformation. Many readers will be intrigued by her candid look at the erotic and romantic lives of dozens of notables identified here as bisexual-Georgia O'Keeffe, Cary Grant, John Maynard Keynes, Laurence Olivier, blues singers Bessie Smith and Gertrude (Ma) Rainey, painter Larry Rivers, Virginia Woolf, John Cheever, Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay, rock star Kurt Cobain, etc. Garber devotes chapters to androgyny, marriages between bisexuals, sexual conversion narratives, bisexual love triangles, with close analyses of bisexual themes in Henry James, James Baldwin, Anne Rice's vampire fiction and movies like Basic Instinct and Personal Best.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is a comprehensive look at bisexuality in human culture, from ancient history to the present day. In particular, it looks at how bisexuality has been written out of history and excluded from study -- from the myth of Tiresias and triangular relationships in ancient Greece, through to modern-day movie stars and their closet bisexuality.
Stylistically, it's very readable; the one problem is that it is simply too detailed for my taste. After ploughing through twenty or thirty pages discussing Sigmund Freud, I really didn't want to hear any more about his theories of universal bisexuality. Similarly, I just wasn't that interested to read about the Bloomsbury authors' romantic entanglements, or the Taos artists' unconventional relationships.
A few sections really caught my attention, however: The LaVey "gay brain" study is demolished ruthlessly and effectively, along with other similar pieces of "scientific" research; a surprising comparison between bisexuality and interracial relationships illuminates some of the psychological reasons for biphobia; and the bisexual subtext of vampire myths is entertainingly teased out.
If you're bi and in search of a culture and history you can relate to, this is the book for you. If you want to know more practically what it means to be bi, this probably isn't what you're looking for. If you're straight, this book might just convince you that bisexuals really do exist...
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jon on March 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book affects me daily. It asks me: to probe deep inside my mind for the why. It asks me: what my actions will mean to what labels I have chosen. It asks me: to refine and/or reject certain ways I once thought about historical people. It preaches nothing and for that I am thankful.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James L. Park on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Marjorie B. Garber
Vice Versa:
Bisexualities and the Eroticism of Everyday Life

(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995) 606 pages
(Library of Congress call number: HQ74.G37 1995)

An interesting review of the cultural phenomenon of bisexuality,
drawing especially on well-known bisexuals.

The author merely collects the facts and accounts of these people's lives.
There is no attempt to explain why some people are bisexual.

If you want to read other books on such matters,
search the Internet for this bibliography:
"Best Books on Sexual Orientation".

James Leonard Park, author of
Imprinted Sexual Fantasies: A New Key for Sexology.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By chris reiss on February 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
QUITE A TOME OF A BOOK I BELIVE TO BE SLIGHTLY OVERDETAILED AND FAIRLY COMPLICATED SENTENCE STRUCTURE. INTERESTING ARE THE MANY DETAILS GIVING DETAILS AND REPRESENTING CELEBS FROM OVER 6O YEARS BACK - NOT ABSOLUTELY SURE ABOUT RECOMMENDATION - NOT CASUAL READING - THERE ARE, I AM SURE, MANY MORE BOOKS MAKING FOR AN EASIER READ.
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