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The Divine Miss P.

Elaine Showalter, 11 February 1993

Sex, Art and American Culture 
by Camille Paglia.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, March 1993, 0 670 84612 0
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... Smarter than Susan Sontag? Funnier than Harold Bloom? Well, if you take her word for it, it’s Camille Paglia, come to set the world straight on the burning issues of our time: tenured radicals, date rape, the aesthetic evolution of Madonna. The self-styled genius and warrior woman seized public attention with her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and ...

Making It

Melissa Benn: New Feminism?, 5 February 1998

Different for Girls: How Culture Creates Women 
by Joan Smith.
Chatto, 176 pp., £10.99, September 1997, 9780701165123
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The New Feminism 
by Natasha Walter.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.50, January 1998, 0 316 88234 8
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A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Penguin, 752 pp., £20, June 1997, 0 670 87420 5
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... as much as her beauty; and along with other, more idiosyncratic ‘third-wave’ feminists, like Camille Paglia, she has led women back towards the embrace, personal and political, of men and masculinity. But while Wolf wants us all to dance towards a sunny future as in a Coca-Cola ad, Paglia prefers to imagine us ...

Risky Business

Elaine Showalter, 22 September 1994

Telling Women’s Lives: The New Biography 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 201 pp., $22.95, July 1994, 0 8135 2092 4
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... get its feminist credentials through learning disabilities and solemnity. Come back to the raft, Camille Paglia, all is forgiven. Most problematically, Wagner-Martin believes that writing women’s lives is primarily the work of women, and that only a rare male biographer can succeed at the task. Although she grudgingly admits that the Norwegian Per ...

Fifteen years on

Elaine Showalter, 20 October 1994

No Man’s Land. Vol. III: Letters from the Front 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 476 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 300 05631 1
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... belief in literary history peopled by men and women. There are the biological backlashers, led by Camille Paglia, who called Gilbert and Gubar ‘chirpy warblers’ and ‘unreadable bores’ (Gilbert, in her turn, has called Paglia an ‘idiot savant’); the Post-Structuralists, who see ‘woman’ as merely a ...

Hairpiece

Zoë Heller, 7 March 1996

Off with Her Head! The Denial of Women’s Identity in Myth, Religion and Culture 
edited by Wendy Doniger and Howard Eilberg-Schwartz.
California, 236 pp., £32, October 1995, 0 520 08839 5
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Hair Style 
by Amy Fine Collins.
Prion, 160 pp., £40, November 1995, 1 85375 200 2
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... and jokes. Confronted with this archaic, womyn’s drear, one could even begin to think fondly of Camille Paglia. Her famous exhortation to women to recognise and luxuriate in their ‘cosmic dominance of the emotional and sexual realm’ may have all sorts of shortcomings as a strategy for female emancipation, but a little bit of her feistiness – a ...

In a flattened world

Richard Rorty, 8 April 1993

The Ethics of Authenticity 
by Charles Taylor.
Harvard, 142 pp., £13.95, November 1992, 0 674 26863 6
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... Berkeley and on many American campuses, though it is neither so widespread nor so unchallenged as Camille Paglia, Hilton Kramer, Thomas Sowell and other viewers-with-alarm suggest. One of its products is the kind of wildly inconsistent rhetoric dissected by David Bromwich in Politics by Other Means: the insistence that you are only an authentic black if ...

Elitism

Linda Colley, 3 December 1992

The Volcano Lover: A Romance 
by Susan Sontag.
Cape, 419 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 224 02912 6
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... States, she is often now attacked for her cosmopolitanism and neglect of popular culture – by Camille Paglia, for instance, who lays into her regularly with the pure and simple aim of rising on her ashes. So perhaps in this novel Sontag is getting her own back. For what could be more piquant than for an author to insert statements of the most ...

Mother-Haters and Other Rebels

Barbara Taylor: Heroine Chic, 3 January 2002

Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 384 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 330 34669 5
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... disjointed and inconsequential. The thumbnail sketches of famous divas – Germaine Greer, Camille Paglia – are lively and shrewd, but Showalter’s personal reminiscences tend to be off-key, girlishly confiding and unrevealing at the same time. Obscure friends and acquaintances pop in and out with bare introductions, and the handling of ...

Poxy Doxies

Margaret Anne Doody, 14 December 1995

Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet 
by Germaine Greer.
Viking, 517 pp., £20, September 1995, 0 670 84914 6
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... to A Room of One’s Own, a riposte to Woolf somewhat influenced by the work of Our Lady of Straw, Camille Paglia. Our discoveries of female poets of the past, Greer claims, are not real discoveries. The women writers who have been picked up will soon be put down again. Seldom do they have any lasting power, or any true or great poetic quality. They are ...

Lucky City

Mary Beard: Cicero, 23 August 2001

Cicero: A Turbulent Life 
by Anthony Everitt.
Murray, 346 pp., £22.50, April 2001, 0 7195 5491 8
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... wonderfully adaptable to a range of enemies and circumstances. In a notorious recent attack, Camille Paglia substituted the name of Michel Foucault for Catiline. And in the closing days of the Second World War a disconsolate lover (Walter Prude), separated by the demands of military service from his new wife (Agnes de Mille, choreographer of ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... have the theatrical attack and crusading passion of a true iconoclast, a Christopher Hitchens or Camille Paglia; like so many middle-aged curmudgeons, he is primarily preoccupied with what inconveniences him personally, for example that it has become all but impossible for him to enjoy dinner without the liberals sitting nearby having Marat/Sade ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 14 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... hands on the fatal document. At every turn there are distractions: Noam Chomsky making out with Camille Paglia, ‘an undergrad named Donna’ organising a bacchanal, Guattari ‘hitting on an innocent postgrad from Illinois’. Bayard – who’s being taught a lesson about gender performativity by the young Judith Butler during a drugged-up threesome ...

More or Less Gay-Specific

David Halperin, 23 May 1996

Homos 
by Leo Bersani.
Harvard, 208 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 0 674 40619 2
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... gay studies is not routinely reported on by the popular press, except via hostile witnesses like Camille Paglia, Bersani’s polemic is likely to gain a wider audience, and to exert a greater influence, than it deserves. Hence the following remonstration. Bersani begins magnificently. ‘No one wants to be called a homosexual.’ From there, however, he ...

Diary

Carolyne Wright: Taslima Nasreen gets them going, 8 September 1994

... Bengalis, I tried to think of an analogous personality in the West. The name that came to mind was Camille Paglia. Nasreen’s columns began to attack religious scriptures, the Koran among them, and outraged conservative Muslim groups demonstrated in protest, demanding her public trial and execution; but the furor died down quickly, especially during the ...

Go girl

Jacqueline Rose: The intimate geography of women, 30 September 1999

Woman: An Intimate Geography 
by Natalie Angier.
Virago, 398 pp., £17.99, March 1999, 1 86049 685 7
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Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-98 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 75 pp., £14.95, March 1999, 0 393 04682 6
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... woman’s body is the battlefield where she fights for liberation’ – but light-years from Camille Paglia (‘that most noisome and anti-feminist of self-proclaimed feminists’, as Angier describes her), despite Paglia’s claim, in the most recent issue of Women: A Cultural Review, that she has been vindicated ...

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