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Women Who Run with the Wolves Mass Market Paperback – November 27, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 632 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Folklore, fairy tales and dream symbols are called on to help restore women's neglected intuitive and instinctive abilities in this earthy first book by a Jungian analyst. According to Estes, wolves and women share a psychic bond in their fierceness, grace and devotion to mate and community. This comparison defines the archetype of the Wild Woman, a female in touch with her primitive side and able to rely on gut feelings to make choices. The tales here, from various cultures, are not necessarily about wolves; instead, they illuminate fresh perspectives on relationships, self-image, even addiction. An African tale of twins who baffle a man represents the dual nature of woman; from the Middle East, a story about a threadbare but secretly magic carpet shows society's failure to look beyond appearances. Three brief, ribald stories advocate a playful, open sexuality; other examples suggest ways to deal with anger and jealousy. At times, Estes's commentary--in which she urges readers to draw upon and enjoy their Wild Woman aspects--is hyperbolic, but overall her widely researched study offers usable advice for modern women.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

A feminist counterpart to Iron John--or, how ``a healthy woman is much like a wolf.'' Est‚s, a Jungian analyst, believes that a woman's wholeness depends on her returning to the sources of her repressed instinctual nature. To illustrate the ways of the ``wild woman,'' the author draws on myths, legends, and fairy tales from a vast and eclectic range of traditions. This collection of stories may well be the most valuable element of the book, which otherwise reads like unedited transcripts of the workshops Est‚s leads to encourage women to return to their ``feral'' roots. Each story demonstrates a particular aspect of woman's experience--relationship, creativity, anger, spirituality, etc. Est‚s finds evidence in the most diverse tales of the necessity for women to reclaim their wildness. The precise nature of this wildness is difficult to fathom, but, at best, it seems to include a genuine capacity to access feelings and to accept one's contradictions, while, at worst, it appears to amount to the kind of self-indulgence that prevailed during the ``me'' generation. Est‚s claims that her book is for every woman, ``whether you be spicy or somber, regal or roughshod''; but her underlying assumption that every woman is free to abandon what holds her back seems ignorant of social and economic realities. The author provides few concrete examples that might help women understand what she expects them to do, and her prose abounds in generalizations and oddities (``the ambitious woman...who is heartfelt toward her accomplishments'') that further undermine her credibility and her considerable scholarship. Hortatory, ecstatic, and, ultimately, irritating. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345409876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712657471
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (632 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Reading the other customer reviews, I find it very interesting to see how different they are, and how different many of them are from my experience.
I was surprised to read the review on this page by the woman who believes we ought to read Jung first (or instead). My experience is the opposite; when I've picked up Jung's original works I've found them tough to follow, but this book I found very accessible and useful. I don't think the comparison between the Bible and a tv evangelist is at all fair. It's more like the difference between Strunk & White and the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is wonderful, but Strunk & White is the one that is most likely to help you become a better writer.
Although I think of myself as a creative person, I tend to downplay that part of myself and to lead with my left brain, as it were. Reading this book I felt like I was being given a path to my inner wellspring. I felt that I had at last found water for a thirst I hadn't quite been able to identify until now.
This book is about one's inner life. It is not a how-to book, it's not political (except in the sense that the personal is political), and I didn't feel that it over-emphasized "what's wrong with you," as another reader put it. It does continually nudge one to think about what might be wrong: many many women are cut off from their own preferences, their own inner selves, because they feel pressured to conform with societal norms. Many societal norms are, in my opinion, quite damaging and inappropriate. It is very easy in American society to get the impression that women should be seen and not heard.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Since this book was first published in 1992, I have made it my New Year's resolution to re-read Women Who Run with the Wolves every year. I have given more copies of this book away than I can remember - and I am thrilled to do so. I begin again in 2006 for the 15th full reading (though I pick a page throughout the year to journal with and 'wake me up'.)

To begin the wondrous journey of discovery to my wild and intutive self is a gift and a new journey to uncovering the jewel within. New depths of power are accessed with every reading and I am bathed in feminine myth and mystery. This book has inspired me to design, write, accomplish and accept fulfillment at so many levels. Please read this book. Women Who Run with the Wolves is a MUST tool for every female. It's a treasure. Elaine Maginn Sonne, PhD, Author Legends of the Stones.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is so different, so astounding, that it defies catagorization. The concept of analyzing ancient legends and folk tales to reveal the inner nature of women and the patterns in womens' lives felt revolutionary to me when I first sat down with this book. But then, as I read each segment and digested the author's analysis and correlation with typical life patterns experienced by women, I realized that she tapped into truths which are as ancient as the folk tales and legends themselves. Besides that, she is one of the most ELOQUENT writers I've ever had the pleasure to read. Her observations and their resulting lessons are so profound, so insightful they take my breath away at times. I just have to sit back, take a deep breath, shake my head and reread the section that just overwhelmed me.

My favorites are "Skeleton Woman" and "Baubo the Belly Goddess". I don't want to give away any surprises... so just get this wonderful book and read these chapters for yourself! I've read it straight through, and then gone back to re-experience my favorite chapters. This book can be enjoyed either way! I would so love to meet this woman at a booksigning.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ancient cultures the world over have all had oral traditions as the roots of their literature, both for the purposes of education and entertainment.
In the darkness by the fireside, story-tellers enthralled their fellow tribesmen with tales handed down through countless generations and centuries.
What determines which stories are told and re-told on through the ages? Usually, they are tales which illustrate a moral value, a particular quality or a lesson that a particular society deems important. Whether it be a cautionary tale or a legend demonstrating a virtue, we get great insights into what is valued by examining the old, old stories.
Until recent years with the advent of Women's Studies on university campuses, the teachings imparted to one's daughters and grandaughters were often overlooked. That glaring omission has been rectified through Clarissa Pinkola Estes' incredible book.
"Women Who Run With the Wolves" is not light reading by any means, but is a scholarly exploration of the feminine character. Has civilization tried to strangle our basic "Wild Woman" inner natures? And, if so, at what cost has the shrew been tamed?
"Women Who Run With the Wolves" contains some familiar stories from our collective childhoods: The Little Match Girl and Bluebeard. But these are not the soothing, toned-down versions to read by your toddlers' bedsides. Instead, they are terrifying and real.
Estes, who is both a Jungian analyst/psychologist and professional storyteller, vividly recounts the visceral details of often violent folklore.
Not only are European nursery tales included, but the book is global in scope. Estes also weaves in less familiar traditions, such as stories from the Lakota Indians.
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