81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant mix of belles-lettres and philosophy
, July 29, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Paperback)
Paglia has gotten so much press in recent years, due to her self-transformation from obscure academic into media pundit, that it's easy to sniff at the awe-inspiring strengths of her first and greatest book. There is something in "Sexual Personae" to annoy and upset everyone - but Paglia irritates because her brilliant mind neatly and decisively rips apart received ideas. By asserting the truth of certain basic oppositions - Apollo/Dionysos, Christian/Pagan, male/female - Paglia creates a thinking-space where we can see how art and literature have flourished in the tense zone between these poles. You cannot help but admire the range and depth of her erudition and interests, particularly in an age where American intellectuals say more and more about less and less. Paglia's prose is clear, dramatic, and of an adamantine brilliance that, in its better passages (the introduction, "Renaissance Art," and "Pagan Beauty," come to mind) stuns yo! u with its insights. I applaud her defense of the male imagination's sexual peculiarities, always kept on a short leash in Puritan America, and greatly look forward to the second volume. This book should be required reading in freshman composition courses. Reading this book changed my view of reality permanently. Paglia says many thing which I had always sensed, but could never put into words. The firestorm of opposition which her ideas have generated merely indicates her strength as a thinker. You owe it to yourself to read this book!
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