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Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson Paperback – August 20, 1991
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"A remarkable book, at once outrageous and compelling, fanatical and brilliant. . . . One must be awed by [Paglia's] vast energy, erudition and wit." —The Washington Post
“Sexual Personae [is] an enormous sensation of a book, in all the better senses of ‘sensation.’ There is no book comparable in scope, stance, design or insight.” —Harold Bloom
“The ability to infuriate both antagonists in an ideological struggle is often a sign of a first-rate book. . . . [Paglia] is a conspicuously gifted writer . . . and an admirably close reader with a hard core of common sense.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Paglia marshals a vast array of . . . cultural materials with an authorial voice derived from sixties acid-rock lead guitar. . . . Close to poetry.” —Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces
“This book is a red comet in a smog-filled sky. . . . Brilliant.” —The Nation
From the Publisher
"A remarkable book, at once outrageous and compelling, fanatical and brilliant....One must be awed by [Paglia's] vast energy, erudition and wit"--Washington Post Book World
Top customer reviews
The various dualities Dionysian / Apollonian, pagan / Judeo-Christian, female / male, nature / nurture and within nature (of which she has a dark view) itself as malevolent / benevolent are well portrayed and give rise to thought. Her discussion of the androgynous nature of different characters in literary works (e.g. those in Goethe) as well as the 'enormous power' of the mother/woman is well carried. In her analysis of various writers her argument is often repeated; perhaps to have taken fewer examples from each would have been adequate, then again she is presenting a view of various (mainly English) writers which is perhaps quite different from the standard literary critique and therefore worthy of explication.
Her discussions of Western decadence such as seen in later Romanticism are as relevant to America in 2016 as when first written (and most probably, too, her critique of the prevailing ideological climate of 'leading' American universities).
art and literary works from the dawn of civilization to the
poetry of Emily Dickinson who she labels the "Sade of America>
Paglia sets us a paradigm of conflict between the sexes throughout history in realms as diverse as politics, art and
literature. Paglia sees the conflict as based on the Apollo instinct in male artists to overcome the dark, watery, earth-
Through a detailed look at such literary giants as Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, Emily Bronte, Whitman, Poe,
Hawthorne, Melville and the late nineteenth century decadents such as Oscar Wilde, Bauldelaire, Gautier, Huysmans and others
she makes original and until now unnoticed observations on the work of each master artist.
The book should be read through to understand her point but students could also use the book to examine the chapters dealing with the particular author or literary/artistic movement they are studying.
Paglia's work is so important it is absud to expect a short review such as this one to do justice to Dr. Paglia's groundbreaking work which will wake up the academy and complacent feminists!
As a disciple of Dr. Harold Bloom this bisexual Italian-American academic is someone the student of the arts should read and savor.
Paglia is controversial but essential reading. I recommend her work and have enjoyed the week I spent with this book!