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Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the Fierce Order of Virility Paperback – 1 May 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New edition edition (1 May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226471411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226471419
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book

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First Sentence
A LARGE part of my childhood was under the sign of plays, operas, or lyric dramas that I was taken to by my parents, both passionately fond of the theater, particularly when it was combined with music. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
A confessional memoir by the lesser-known French surrealist. 6 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Michel Leiris-- a French ethnographer who also was affiliated with the surrealist literary movement-- penned this often morbidly self-castigating memoir in the proclaimed hope that he might confront and largely master the many deep-seated fears and obsessions that contributed to his "growth" into manhood. Of course, like a number of works within such a genre-- Rousseau's Confessions would provide a paradigm of this-- one often feels suspended between such a cathartic motive and the manner in which the narrative betrays a strange masochistic pleasure as well: a phenomenon that Leiris perceives himself, and which often serves to amplify his self-criticism even further. In accounting for his motives, Leiris proposes an analogy between his own activity and that of a bullfighter whose ritualistic behavior must to some extent mimic the very violent or threatening forces that it wishes to subdue. If in a writer like Hemingway this narrative attempt to regain some sense of virility or manhood sometimes betrays an underlying fear of castrating women, Leiris clearly indulges in this fear in a much more overt and graphic fashion, even as he acknowledges the bizarre mixture of desire that transforms such fear into its eroticized counterpart. Thus we see so many of his early experiences organized around the symbolic figures of Lucrece and Judith, two female figures from ancient myth who in their own ways serve to highlight the ambivalent significance of violent feminine sexuality in the male imagination. As Leiris connects these figures with his own childhood fears and fantasies, as well as with their many counterparts in the opera or musical drama of the author's youth, we not only get an interesting intertwining of psycho-auto-biography and literary criticism, but an illuminating cross-section of the many masculine sexual hang-ups which seem to linger within such cultural images. Or do such neuroses reside primarily within Leiris's own fevered imagination? In any case, this book allows the reader to consider this question in a very rich manner, with only a few slow passages here and there. If such a form of writing can degenerate into egomaniacal farce in the case of Norman Mailer, Leiris seems to avoid this for the most part-- he allows himself much more vulnerability in our evaluation of him, and in the process appears much more complex of a person. As the current enthusiasm for memoirs looks like it's still in full swing, Leiris is worth checking out.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Leiris had me hooked 31 July 2003
By B. S. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I'm not a huge fan of philosophy, Manhood is a page turner. Leiris autobiographical account of his life is delightfully disturbing.
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