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A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,205 ratings  ·  178 reviews
A compelling and radical collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy from prize-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt, the acclaimed author of The Blazing World and What I Loved.

Siri Husvedt has always been fascinated by biology and how human perception works. She is a lover of art, the humanities, and the sciences. She is a novelist and a femi
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Simon Schuster
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Elyse  Walters
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
"A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind",
was at times an unfathomable experience----but given that Siri's new book is about human life, it seems reasonable that while the reader is expanding knowledge- exploring thoughts- opening their heart & mind -that consciousness would get lost. It's simply a normal part of the awareness reading process.

I spent almost a month reading this intimate affair - a journey - a course of study....( call it what you wa
Jan 19, 2017 marked it as will-probably-not-finish
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
I feel really bad about not finishing this book. And it definitely reflects more on me than on the book - because it is a me-thing this time. I do not have the mental capacity to read this book at the moment. I already knew that I was in trouble when Siri Hustvedt told the reader in the introduction that parts of the book might not be understood unless you have very specific knowledge of neuroscience or art history; which I lack, both in fact. I am good enough with art to be able to have a conve ...more
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Siri Hustvedt is one of my favourite novelists, and my primary interest in this book was that I felt it might improve my understanding of her imaginary worlds and their fearless explorations of intellectual ideas. The novels delve deeply into the subjects of this book, particularly neuroscience and art.

The title is a little misleading - it is taken from the introductory essay but the bulk of this book is about neuroscience and the mind, with frequent asides about Hustvedt's own experiences and c
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title of this book is taken from the name of one of the essays and speeches Hustvedt had written for various professional organizations. It’s a provocative title, though I like more the name of another of these pieces, “I Wept for Four Years and When I Stopped I was Blind”. The word ‘sex’ in the subtitle doesn’t refer to the sexual act itself, but to the ways gender has been thought of, historically and culturally, inherent biases included.

As with her Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Pa
Viv JM
“A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women” is a book of essays split into three sections. The first contains essays about art and criticism, the second part is almost the length of an entire book in itself and is about the mind/body connection, and the third section (my favourite) explores the human condition through the lens of literature, philosophy, sociology and science.

The collection really demonstrates Siri Hustvedt’s fierce intellect. Her knowledge is vast and encompasses not only art and
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
My review for the Chicago Tribune:

Siri, the computer program that operates as an artificially intelligent personal assistant, appears to know the answers to everything. So seemingly, does the author Siri Hustvedt, or at least such is the impression given by her voluminous, humorous and wide-ranging new collection "A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex and the Mind." Unlike Apple's so-called knowledge navigator, though, Hustvedt doesn'
Joslyn Allen
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Review published at https://chronicbibliophilia.wordpress...

This will be a shockingly short review for an immense book. Siri Hustvedt is a well-respected, much lauded writer. Her writing crosses genres, as do her passions and her expertise. In “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women”, Hustvedt has compiled essays which marry her interests in science and art, essays “on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy”.

Now, I wear my nerd badge proudly, but Hustvedt’s writing in “A Woman
Sep 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Way off my territory but an exceptional read. I understood about two thirds of it. Fantastic and much food for thought.
Britta Böhler
Some interesting bits and pieces but overall rather 'meh'.
Roman Clodia
Dec 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a collection of essays which fall into that space which is not academic (though Hustvedt herself has a literature PhD and lectures in psychiatry) and yet has some high-brow intellectual content: think long articles in the LRB or The Economist or similar.

Hustvedt starts with the premise that 'modes of knowing are different' in science and humanities - something that I don't think anyone would disagree with and hardly startling - but I'm not convinced she's really operating in the interdis
This book is divided into three sections; the first and third are essays on art, philosophy, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. Hustvedt brings a wealth of knowledge to her pieces and she's a generous thinker. Her central argument is that the mind cannot be studied as an entity abstracted from the body, and crucially, that it exists in relation to other people.

The second section is a long essay on the mind/body problem. It's dry, repetitive, and it drove me nuts. She's synthesising a lot of info
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: posseduto
As a person interested in Neuroscience I was super happy of reading this book as a preview for netgalley and I was not disappointed. Siri Hustved was able to convey a lot of information in a clear way, giving also suggestions about related topics and other books of interests. I was delighted even if sometimes it was not such an easy reading because they are almost 600 pages, very dense.

Come persona interessata alle neuroscienze non vi nascondo la mia gioia per aver potuto leggere in anteprima qu
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish. Pretentious and boring. She makes some excellent points about the art world and the disparity within it, but when she talks about pornography as almost some sort of social experiment, rather than the messy profitable distillation of almost everything wrong with humanity that it is, with actual human beings having sex and often being exploited, she lost me.

And reading it, I kept thinking 'this is what the right is talking about when they talk about elites.' People who use need
Niklas Pivic
I'd like to start this review off by stating that I skimmed appx. 25% of this book, as I found some contents to be - to quote David Foster Wallace - hellaciously unfunny.

I've not really read Hustvedt before, so this is my first foray into her stuff.

“The truth is always gray,” the artist once said, citing a platitude that is also a color key.

I mainly enjoyed the bits on gender, pornography, and on Knausgaard's vile statement where commented on the fact that he almost only wrote about male writers
Lu Louche
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After months and months of reading this epic work of intelligence, I am finally done.

It was marvelous, unfathomable interesting but also sometimes tedious. It was brilliant but sometimes too much so. For example, without having read Kierkegaard I couldn’t take away much from the last chapter. And this wasn't the only part where I just felt not smart enough or rather lacking background information on a certain topic. But dear lord how intriguing many of her essays were. Of course, some were bette
Sarah L. Kaufman
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of reviewing this book for The Washington Post, writing that Siri Hustvedt's work "is cerebral but also warm, deeply felt. 'A Woman Looking at Men' is ultimately a look at her many loves — the arts, analysis, the mysteries of perception. Through these lenses, she upholds the individual against the seductions of groupthink. She doesn’t come right out and say this, but the strength and lucidity of Hustvedt’s good thinking calls us to have confidence in our own instincts, to be a ...more
Laura Lacey
May 04, 2017 added it
Shelves: netgalley
Unfortunately I just could not finish this. It is immensely long. It has moments of brilliance but other parts are just too academic, too in-depth and too pretentious. Hustvedt's language can go from engaging to completely off putting in the space of a chapter. Although the premise is fascinating and appeals to the common reader I think it is best reserved for academia. I wrestled with it for months as I hate not finishing books, but life is just too short for this one.
Thanks to Netgalley and t
May 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
I feel bad about not liking this book more, given how brilliant Hustvedt obviously is. But when she talks about arts she's often incomprehensible, and when she talks about science she reminds me of a new word that I learned recently: ultracrepidarian.
Victoria Stanton
Jun 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nah
I made it to page 70 or so and stopped because...

I dunno. Too academic? Used too many words to stay not a lot of shit at all? Some really basic ideas couched in language more important than they deserve?

I just ended up rolling my eyes one too many times for this.
"Philosophy matters because it informs diagnosis." (p.486)

When I started this compilation of essays and lectures I had never consulted a neurologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist, but I did during the time i was reading it. A lot Hustvedt discusses in these essays I already knew or was quite familiar with; the way of looking at art, the phenomenological approach, the mind-body problematics, even Hustvedts own neurological condition. A constant repeating of the same topics, the same reference
Jun 28, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
JFC this is so many words to say so little, humblebragging and namedropping all the way. Get an editor sis.
Louise Hare
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Siri Hustvedt is probably as well known for her non-fiction writing as her novels. In this book she aims to pull together both the arts and sciences in her essays on the human condition. There are three parts to this collection, comprised of new and older essays. The first section, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, focuses on artists and writers such as Picasso, Louise Bourgeois and Karl Ove Knausgaard. The second, The Delusions of Certainty, is a longer piece, thankfully broken into mana ...more
Gazmend Kryeziu
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far so good,I'm half way and really enjoying this book,reminds me a little bit of the second sex by Simone de Beauvoir
I remember reading vividly the second sex by Simone de Beauvoir,a book of the first class
Reading this book ,I felt a similar sensation,meticulously researched an absolute diamond,thoroughly enjoyed
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's always a pleasure and a privilege to get a look-in into a brilliant mind (and Hustvedt's is that), and the brilliant minds that that mind in turn has had a look-in into...the experience not unlike that of being in, and of, a sort of kaleidoscopic hall of mirrors of thought where mind gives onto mind, world onto world...
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I truly admire Hustvedt's intelligence, the depth of her analysis and the quality of her research. But what i enjoy most about her writing is the fact that i feel welcome into it, invited to think alongside it and that whatever i feel/think/intuit is equally worthy of interest.
Maria LeBerre
Holy cow, this was over my head. Also, I don't care about art, which isn't all it's about, but a fair amount.
Sigrun Hodne
Some essays in this collection are just terrific - others ... well; words and words -- too many of them!
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to know more about the connection between body and mind.
Excellent book of essays.
Paul Wolinsky
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Siri Hustvedt is a writer of fiction, mostly, although she has written essays too. It is important to keep this in mind if you are considering reading this book, because whatever anyone says about it -- including me -- you should know that Hustvedt is sensitive to words, and thinks carefully about words when she chooses them.
This quality, then, her concern with words and the selection of words, makes her a very good guide in the effort to disentangle science from scientism, and reasonable journa
A.M. Pfeffer
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I only finished half the book at this point, but I'm saving the second half for sometime later this year or next. Like a good bottle of booze you don't want to guzzle too quickly because you want to know it's still there come holiday time...that is how I feel about Ms. Hustvedt's book. She delves deep on this one. Deep into life questions (not just gender acuity), and those questions beget more questions. She is a scientist first and foremost, constantly (and understandably) disappointe ...more
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Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made

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