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Heartbreak: The Political Manifesto of a Feminist Militant [Hardcover]

Andrea Dworkin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 April 2006
Published to coincide with the first anniversary of Dworkin's death, "Heartbreak" reveals for the first time the personal side of Andrea Dworkin's journey as an activist, writer, and one of the women's movement's most influential figures. By turns wry, spirited, and poignant, Dworkin tells the story of how she evolved from a childhood lover of music and books into a college activist, embraced her role as an international advocate for women, and emerged as a maverick thinker at odds with both the liberal left and the mainstream women's movement. Beautifully written and surprisingly intimate, "Heartbreak" is a portrait of a soul, and a mind, in the making.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.; New edition edition (3 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826491472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826491473
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 751,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'..explosive ... uncompromising courage ... you could not get a voice more intensely alive’ -- Times Literary Supplement

‘She never trivialised and her intransigent radicalism, often at cost to her own comfort, commands respect.' -- Financial Times

About the Author

Andrea Dworkin was a controversial and influential feminist writer and tireless campaigner against pornography and violence towards women until her death in April 2005. Author of 13 books, ranging across feminist theory, fiction and poetry, including Pornography, Intercourse and Scapegoat.

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I studied music when I was a child, the piano as taught by Mrs. Smith. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life changing. 1 Oct 2006
this book is important.

Andrea has been misquoted and misunderstood for decades; most people see her as the stereotypical militant feminist (hairy, dungeries etc.), the woman (who was misrepresented as) saying that "all sex is rape"...

she peices together her life and her beliefs with beauty, wit, eloquence, and emotion... and it is possible to see beyond the ferocity of her speeches, to how she arrived at the conclusions she did.

this book is the missing peices of the jigsaw, which allows the reader to experience and understand for themselves how Dworkin arrived at the conclusions she did.

and also allows us to see, how right she is in her arguments.

we are not living post-feminism; infact, we haven't even come close to equality yet.

if you haven't already, read Ariel Levy's "female chauvanist pigs" first... its a brilliant introduction to modern feminism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Andrea Dworkin 21 May 2012
By Tammy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had never read any of Andrea Dworkin's work and didn't really know that much about her, apart from some negative name calling. This collection of short articles written by her and put together after her death blew me away. It's a type of memoir, articles about her childhood, school, her likes and dislikes, music she liked, plus many other issues that really mattered to her and figured in her books. She had such a clear brilliant mind, was uncompromising and stood up for what was important to her and had 'attitude' from an early age. I love this book, it's something to dip in and out of and to treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood and maligned 20 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very intriguing, bite-sized read (each chapter is about 2-5 pages long) which adds a more human face to the caricature of Andrea Dworkin's public persona. Moving, engaging and, in parts, very funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The story of a deeply compassionate woman 4 July 2011
There is such an extreme caricature of Andrea Dworkin and her views out there, and this book really helps bring it back to earth. It was a pleasure to read, pretty easy going. A good way to get close to the heart, thought and story of an important figure and a deeply compassionate woman... and a really funny and likeable person too. I think the debate on pornography will keep re-emerging and Andrea Dworkin's thought and activism will, I hope, grow in importance in the coming years.
Its gets three stars because she's written with more savage zest than she does here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.3 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different look 17 Oct 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
"Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant" by Andrea Dworkin was kind of a surprising little book. I wanted it because I wanted to know more about Dworkin's career and politics, and I learned some about each from this, but obliquely, like through a scrim. The writing feels like it's been done from a distance, almost, which I guess most memoirs are, but when she's writing about the stories of women who were
raped or prostituted, the gloves come off, the profanity is on and she is harsh, tough and up-close.
She's harsh, politically, too. She has very definite positions and seems to believe that if you don't think like her, you're in most ways a hypocrite. She is very negative about the national organization of NOW, but positive about local chapters and organizers. She does at one point concede that some of the people who don't want to abolish pornography on free-speech grounds aren't all evil, but that's as close as she gets to
empathy for those on the left who are working, but not in tandem with her. I had read in a gender issues text at one time an essay that she co-wrote with Catherine A. MacKinnon - they wanted to get pornography outlawed on civil rights precedent - but this was pretty "naked" in comparison with that persuasive writing.
The title comes from the idea that she feels heartbreak all the time because of the women she meets who have been hurt by men and by women who would rather please men than help their sisters. She does seem very raw and disappointed with the world. A quote on the back of the book reads, "We should all treat
Andrea Dworkin like a national treasure for caring enough to engage our passions - wherever upon the political or social spectrum they may fall." This was written by Deirdre Bair, who wrote a good biography I've read about Simone de Beauvoir. I think I would agree; I know that Dworkin has done important work to raise the awareness about women's issues, particularly pornography, in her lifetime. Even if you disagree, I think having a considered opinion is better than just following the status quo. With Dworkin around, the latter won't be an option.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mind is a terrible thing to waste. 20 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Andrea Dworkin's tell-all this is not. That's hardly surprising, given that Dworkin is one of the most maligned women in the world, and any details she shares about her life are likely to be met with suspicion at best. What is disappointing is that the book is presented as a memoir and is not. It is a series of episodic, highly selective anecdotes, presented in roughly chronological order but confusing as to subjective and objective significance. Somewhere in the puzzle there is a truly heartbreaking story--that of a brilliant, courageous, talented woman set on wrong turns early and with malice aforethought by a society that could only recognize intelligence in a woman as perversity and perversity as sexual. Even growing up in Camden, New Jersey, Dworkin's gifts were recognized by her teachers, but women teachers resented her and male teachers tried to seduce her. Dworkin's refusal to conform closed the usual paths of resistance to seduction: female chastity and lack of adventurousness. She went in the opposite extreme, experimenting sexually at an early age, valuing her independence but remaining essentially gullible, loving books and the male model of the social outcast, while at the same time picking up few practical skills. It never was spelled out to her that male bohemians survived because on the one hand, they didn't have to worry about rape, number two, no one would expect them to sell their bodies, and number three, they often knew how to use others to their advantage. By the time Dworkin began to figure it out, she had been through prostitution, several rapes, an abusive marriage, and sexual degradation by doctors in the Women's House of Detention in New York, which her testimony (as an antiwar prisoner) helped to bring down. She also had been through serious drug use and the political self-indulgence of much of the sixties, considering all authority, anywhere, as bad, thus refusing a young woman the authority and the help from authority that would allow her to take charge of her life.
Feminism did, and with a lot of help from her friends, Dworkin not only survived but transcended her background to become an original and tough-minded feminist writer. This is the most inspiring part of her story and reflects most positively upon radical feminism--now a smear word, but originally a way for women who had been left-wing radicals to distance themselves from the misogynism of the left while maintaining a progressive vision. Unfortunately, radical feminism quickly ran up against the same walls as sixties radicalism, fracturing into the exploration of consciousness and lifestyles on the one hand and on the other, a movement against sexual violence that accomplished certain positive goals while remaining self-divided politically. It was the latter which threw Andrea Dworkin into prominence, her imaginative verbal fury and personal anguish an unforgettable diversion from the difficult legal and social details of institutionalizing anti-rape politics, but too often a diversion to help in translating pain into practice. Reading between the lines, it is easy to see how her own best qualities played a role in making Dworkin the feminist equivalent of the "cool teacher": the magnetic, sympathetic personality of huge learning whose attractive extremism and lack of common sense threatens to overpower the young as they start living their own lives. Feminism is a young movement; feminists are by definition in need of mentors. Reading "Heartbreak," the overwhelming lack in Dworkin does not come across as being one of courage, social conscience, or integrity, but of even the most basic mentoring skills, however skinlessly keen her attention to others: it's an attention that is focused on her own sensitivity, her own attentiveness, her own compassion. Others are her mentors--Judith Malina, Grace Paley, Muriel Rukeyser, Huey Newton, and would-be Ginsberg and Goodman--but Dworkin overwhelms rather than guiding. Her ideals may be on the side of the angels; her self-absorption, however, verges on megalomania.
One suspects this is what happens to a brilliant person encouraged to be a mediocrity, and Dworkin's most stunning case in this book is not against pornography or pedophilia (her charge against most male mentors) or even Bill Clinton: it's against high school. The book is worth reading and buying for that. It's heartbreaking, but not quite as Andrea Dworkin intended: it's heartbreaking for the portrait of a near-genius who knows the truth about herself, grieves for it every day, and yet cannot quite escape being a caricature.
20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electric politics 6 Mar 2002
By "blissengine" - Published on Amazon.com
I've never read anything by Dworkin before, so I was quite amazed by this collection of memoir essays. In each, Andrea Dworkin relays memories that helped shape her politics, her life, her intensity. For me, the book came alive and turned electric like Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" did, where ultimately it caused my eyes to become more open to social politics. Dworkin's memoir shows that sometimes tiny events can cause one to change, and sometimes the change is almost imperceptible until later reflection. It's amazing to see how a voracious reader and a zealous advocate began.
26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read Brison instead 2 Dec 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I was kind of psyched to read Heartbreak. I'd come to AD because of research I had done on hate speech and pornography; she coauthored anti-pornography legislation with Catherine McKinnon. Then I thought, well, someone so famous and yet seemingly crazy (consensual sex is rape, penetration is violence, etc--) must have something interesting going on.... Her longwinded denunciations of heterosexual men and sex elsewhere contrast with her own life as she tells it here. Yes, she has horror stories about rape, but also 'glory stories' about bedding famous artists and teachers she worshipped.
Frankly, this book reads well in parts -- there are some evocative stories, and Dworkin has a convert's zeal -- but the bulk is painfully bad. It's the kind of thing you should tell your therapist -- who gets paid to listen to your evasions and half-truths. Google "doubts about dworkin" for a Guardian article on Dworkin's rape accusation (Dworkin backs away a little from this in Heartbreak.)
I spend my life reading books I don't agree with, trying to tease out the fair bits from the rhetoric. Realizing that I could have deep, irrational reasons for not liking her (and that this would perhaps be a Dworkin fan's first response), I worked doubly hard to read with sympathy. I gave her every free pass in the book: I trusted blindly every statistic and every second-hand story, down to the last detail. Any construction of the facts that could resolve apparent errors of logic or reasoning I gave her.
In the end, my efforts were a failure. Dworkin has gone off the deep end into paranoid delusion, hurting those she claims to help with her own neurosis and need for self-display. It verges into a hatred that is unclearly focused on both herself and others. There is no stance or opinion in this book coherent enough to agree or disagree with.
If you want to read a book that truthfully confronts the nature of rape and violence from a first person perspective, you should read Aftermath, by Susan Brison. To read Dworkin's book is perhaps only -- for both women and men -- to self-flagellate for a few hours before returning to Planet Earth. Where we are then sadly free again to ignore the real problems that Dworkin only dances past -- rape, sexual violence, and the misogynistic discourses that surround and fill our society.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 July 2014
By Pattrick Shier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great read. I would suggest it for anyone
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