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What Do Women Want?: Essays by Erica Jong Paperback – May 10, 2007
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"Jong lays it on the line with these potent essays about women's lives, writing with acuity, gutsiness, and humor."--" Booklist""The eclecticism of the collection is its real pleasure?nutty nuggets of politics, soft-centered personal reflections, melting confections of fantasy?meditations on literary themes."--" Wall Street Journal""Jong at her very best--a kind of master class in real life?she combines memoir and essay in a completely readable, hilariously opinionated, brilliantly well-informed book."-- Susan Cheever
About the Author
Erica Jong is the author of nineteen books of poetry, fiction, and memoir, including Fear of Flying, which has more than 18 million copies in print worldwide. Her most recent essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, and she is a frequent guest on television talk shows. Currently working on a novel featuring Isadora Wing—the heroine of Fear of Flying—as a woman of a certain age, Erica and her lawyer husband live in New York City and Connecticut. Her daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, is also an author.
Erica Jong left a Ph.D. program at Columbia to write her ground-breaking novel Fear of Flying, published in 1973. Jong is the author of numerous award-winning books of poetry and novels including Fanny, How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, Any Woman’s Blues, and the forthcoming Sappho’s Leap. She is also the author of the memoir Fear of Fifty. She lives in New York City and Connecticut.
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Jane Eyre is the study of a strong willed woman determined to be herself and find her place in a male dominated society
Erica Jong does an excellent job of analyzing Jane Eyre character and the traits that make her a strong woman, and a role model for all of us.
Richard Shaw is the author of Smart Like Shakespeare and Writing As Consolation (Kindle).
The edition is very nice too, nice cover page and layout, good readability.
This book is more than a long answer it is reflection of spirit and Jong's own journey into discovering her identity.
Jong, using her uncompromising prowess, delves into womanhood: mother, daughter, and herself. She shares her vulnerability and the complexity of the modern woman.
The lore of sex and all its broad implication, sex is much more than a strong member and a moist recipient, it is about touch, feel, and involving the entire mind, spirit, and body. She lays out the recipe for the perfect man or a mixture of men.
In the end What do women want? By Erica Jong is a composition of the inner being of the complexity of the women psyche.
It is always a risky proposition to ask such a blanket question as she does about all women, and even more is to give an answer that she does - bread,roses, sex, power. It is only symptomatic that Erica does not say - love. And while reading the book, and remembering her Fear, one understands that she is a victim of such a deep-seated inferiority complex, probably greatly enhanced by her psychiatrist husband - a complex of a lonely unloved woman who is suffering from not getting enough attention and admiration, and who as a result had become quite a valiant fighter, but perhaps not a lover.
She writes with such venom about Princess Diana, with her envy reaches a point of bizarre when she compares Diana's wedding in St-Paul cathedral with her own hippie-style; she viciously ridicules the poor Princess, who perhaps did not have the intelligence of Margaret Thatcher, but what made people love her is that she was simply... stunningly beautiful; an embodiment of a dream, a true Princess, noble and refined in looks and grace, and it was indeed enough for the whole world to admire - seemingly a fact that Erica could not forgive. Ms. Jong seems to rejoice in Princess's tragic death, vindictively, although unhappy Diana was looking for the same as the author - love, maybe more than sex and power. Somehow it was quite repulsive to read the pages where Erica hisses as a poisonous snake, attacking Diana's pearls - while herself on my edition of the book she wears them on the cover page.
One more point is Ms. Jong's complete misunderstanding of Nabokov's Lolita. First of all, although she mentions Edgar Allen Poe, she nevertheless does not make a connection between Annabel Lee and Humbert's first love, who is Annabel and whose reincarnation Lolita is. For a writer this is a terrible miss.
Then in a bout of a militant defiance for the sake of nonconformism, Erica-Erato tries to rationalize Humbert's behavior towards Lolita, going as far as to say that fourteen years old girls have sexuality. Well, it is true, of course, although that sexuality usually does not imply being sexually exploited by a step father. How could Erica miss the point that Lolita hates Humbert??? This comes from a writer who in other parts of the same opus would speak of the mystery of touch, of chemistry...What is strange that Ms. Jong, while claiming to be a feminist, somehow completely disregards obvious emotions of Lolita, so masterly depicted by Nabokov, and taking Humbert's side in justifying his story as a "response" to Lolita's unspoken desire. This is quite an assumption, worthy of someone whose mind was indeed damaged by the influence of a shrink, as Erica's husband was.
It is ironic that Ms. Jong seems to take "Lolita" for face value, which exposes her lack of imagination - the story of Lolita is as credible as de Sade's writings, and it is their extreme that entertains the mind, however it is a grave mistake to project such fantasies on reality, considering the events described are "normal" - which she tries to do with Lolita. Ms. Jong is completely oblivious to the point that Lolita is poetry noir; and for its parable value, Nabokov said that this book shows how selfishness and cruelty destroy love and life...
Perhaps for someone who had seen Thanatos in such a lively vivacious building as the church of Santa Maria Salute in Venice, it should be easier to see it in Lolita, but alas on this point Erica seems to be confused between Eros and Thanatos and who belongs where. Could it be a general problem of a very competitive person, obsessed with self-protection and survival? Maybe; but maybe this is why she misses one thing that many people, including women, want - love.
One last and good point about this book is that when Erica discusses an "ideal man", she is suddenly very reasonable and wise - "an ideal man is someone you love and who loves you in return" - I would only wish she would employ this argument in judging Princess Diana's life and that of Lolita.
Overall, a shallow book somewhat; surely Erica is not a poet as Nabokov is, and although she seems to know that she is pure prose, she still dares to speak about things that seem to be beyond her imagination and sublime. A disappointment.