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Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Vintage) [Paperback]

Camille Paglia
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 1992 Vintage
From ancient Egypt through the nineteenth century, Sexual Personae explores the provocative connections between art and pagan ritual; between Emily Dickinson and the Marquis de Sade; between Lord Byron and Elvis Presley. It ultimately challenges the cultural assumptions of both conservatives and traditional liberals. 47 photographs.

Product details

  • Paperback: 718 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Vintage Books ed edition (1 Feb 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780679735793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679735793
  • ASIN: 0679735798
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 291,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"Sexual Personae is an enormous sensation of a book, in all the better senses of 'sensation'. -- Harold Bloom

"A fine, disturbing book. It seeks to attack the reader's emotions as well as his/her prejudices..." -- Anthony Burgess

"It relentlessly pursues its ambition to assault the emotions, batter the brain and aim a kick at the groin." -- Alan Bold, The Times

"Provocative ... a radical reappraisal of the human condition. Her style is marked by angry exhiliration, brittle epigrams and acid paradoxes." -- Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Fascinating! 23 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the most stimulating and thrilling books I have ever read in my life, Sexual Personae will never bore you! It's packed with fascinating concepts that are presented with lively, fearless wit and electrifying style. You may or may not agree with Paglia's ideas but her passion is undeniable and extremely engaging. It's a book to read and then read again because you're certain to find something new and astonishing with every reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comulsive reading 8 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Camille Paglia's massive study of Western culture and the dynamic of Apollo and Dionysus - heaven striving and earthbound - is difficult to put down. It is a real challenge both to conventional feminism, and also to politically correct notions. er style is dazzling and formidably learned, her insights into arte and culture both challenging and brilliant. Her approach is as she states indeebted to Freud, Nietzsche, de Sade, and Jung and Neumann. It is a most valuable and deeply challenging to many current notions and is not aafraid to look at the deeper shadow side of Western culture, Christianity, and sexual dynamics.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Glittering Eyes of Camille Paglia 2 Feb 2006
Taken carefully, like high quality chocolate, this gigantic, opiate den of a book induces in the reader a welcome yearning to find or revisit the veiled, dark side of some wonderful writing.
Each chapter dwells, in chronological order, on a selection of writers Paglia identifies as key to her uncovering of sexual archetypes - some old, some newly found – across the classic canon of art & literature.
A timeline is the first & last stable element of the book, as she barely touches the rudder to drift the reader through a protean, delicious, swamp-realm of sexual drives, longings & fervent consummations emerging from the misty shadows of the artists` work.
At any turn the journey can move from a moment of searing clarity & insight (e.g. the idea that men created the “beauty in nature” aesthetic to drown out despairing truth – that nature is an uncontrollable, sadistic force which will always prevail somehow) or slide miles away for an extended, purely aesthetic exaltation of a poem`s beauty & style, allowing Paglia`s boundless critical language to, at times, out-shimmer its subject.
As it delineates & parades varieties of sexual personae – beautiful boys, nurturing males, vampiric lesbians, femme fatales, alien androgynes & hieratic hermaphrodite, their literary habitats, their guises & displays - this book`s overall effect is akin to swooning; a too-muchness of information & graphic analysis – one long orgy of impulses, connections & echoes across art, social politics and sexual expression.
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