mark monday's Reviews > Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Oct 30, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: all-fucked-up, guidebooks

camille paglia: so misguided! despite the sheer idiocy behind many of her theses, she is a compelling, exuberant author, very readable, and definitely brings a certain kind of gusto and an often unique viewpoint to many classic authors. her rather operatic take on emily dickinson is particularly enjoyable. if this book in any way acts as a gateway drug to classic literature, then i suppose there is something positive to it all. that said, and exciting writing style aside, her reductive view of the genders and her scorn for anything that she finds to be based on intellectual analysis is appalling and also pretty sad. the world is a much bigger place than you realize, camille! there is room for all sorts of things to have value, even michel foucault.
20 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Sexual Personae.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/12/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I don't agree with your rating or a few things you've said, but that's OK. Good review.

mark monday ian, tell me more! i like conversation based on differences of opinion and i don't get offended easily...i want to know why you like her more or less than i do. i'll say more if you say more!

message 3: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Hi, Mark, I only made a quick comment, because I was looking at a whole lot of your reviews on our compare books page.
I have only read the introduction to the book (early 2000's some time), but I found it the most intellectually exuberant and exciting piece of writing I had read in a long time.
Every sentence had something I just had to stop and digest, every sentence was just chock full of meaning and direction and momentum.
I still haven't read the rest of the book though.
It was almost as if the intro set out her modus operandi, and that was enough to get me committed to her and excited.
It was almost as if it changed my whole worldview.
I probably felt that the application of that worldview to more detailed or specific topics (some of which I wasn't familiar with) wasn't going to take me any further at the time, or at least that's how I justified not returning to it.
So I really related to your comments about exuberance and gusto, even though you did move on and seem to get bogged down like I had feared I would.
I'm not normally an intellectually lazy person, but in this case I was, partly because I had already had my fill and needed a good lie down.

message 4: by mark (last edited Jun 04, 2011 12:45PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

mark monday interesting! i do agree that she is an exciting writer. i recommend that you jump to her chapter on emily dickinson - i remember it being fantastic. and strange.

my issues with her having nothing to do with her compelling and very readable writing style. my main issues are (1) her view on relations between the genders as being one of perpetual sexual warfare - she seems to scorn the idea of a more open or even gentle kind of understanding between man & woman; and (2) her almost hysterical distaste for anything she can construe as "intellectual". everything must be rooted in visceral and purely emotional sex, blood, and conflict for her to respect it - she certainly takes the Dionysian over the Apollonian! if it is intellectual: bad; if it is emotional: good. to me, that kind of binary thinking is just odd. both sides/ideals/goals/types have value and i think that's undeniable. but to paglia, there is no middle ground - she's completely against those things that she's not completely in favor of. i have always found that all-or-nothing attitude to be troubling and self-limiting. also, at times her often-hysterical point of view gets to be not only rather labored...but just sort of silly.

message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye You're right, but we can always learn from the self-limiting behaviour of others, in particular, how not to be self-limiting.
Something about Emily Dickinson or that chapter in particular has always scared me off.
Do I need to know anything about her or Camille's views on her?

mark monday the main impression i remember is paglia seems to consider dickinson to be a kind of dangerous, warrior hermaphrodite of some sort.

certainly a unique perspective!

message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye mark wrote: "the main impression i remember is paglia seems to consider dickinson to be a kind of dangerous, warrior hermaphrodite of some sort. certainly a unique perspective!"

In that case, I'll have to finish it.
I might even set up a "dangerous, warrior hermaphrodite" shelf in My Books;)

back to top