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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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... Who is hotter than Mary McCarthy? Smarter than Susan Sontag? Funnier than Harold Bloom? Well, if you take her word for it, it’s CamillePaglia, 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 ...

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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... Democrat mould, Wolf began her career on prime-time TV. She has always been marketed on her youth as much as her beauty; and along with other, more idiosyncratic ‘third-wave’ feminists, like CamillePaglia, 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 ...

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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... sent me fleeing to the news-stand in search of the latest on Lisa-Marie. Surely biography needn’t get its feminist credentials through learning disabilities and solemnity. Come back to the raft, CamillePaglia, 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 ...

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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... shaped feminist theory and practice in the Seventies’, including their own gender gradualism and belief in literary history peopled by men and women. There are the biological backlashers, led by CamillePaglia, 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 ...
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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... is sometimes a matter of deciding who is going to get hurt. Self-indulgent cant is still common in Berkeley and on many American campuses, though it is neither so widespread nor so unchallenged as CamillePaglia, 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 ...

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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... this despite the observation that the members of the all-female braiding party dance and tell stories and jokes. Confronted with this archaic, womyn’s drear, one could even begin to think fondly of CamillePaglia. 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 ...

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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... into emblematic figures proves tricky, however, and these chapters are weaker than their predecessors, disjointed and inconsequential. The thumbnail sketches of famous divas – Germaine Greer, CamillePaglia – 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 ...

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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... universities last year to their Council of Rectors (CRUESP). Outside politics, too, the phrase proves wonderfully adaptable to a range of enemies and circumstances. In a notorious recent attack, CamillePaglia 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 ...

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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... virtue of ironic self-deprecation. This is one reason her books are little read here. But even in the States, she is often now attacked for her cosmopolitanism and neglect of popular culture – by CamillePaglia, 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 ...

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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... carried out in the last quarter of a century. It can also be seen as a pessimistic companion-piece to A Room of One’s Own, a riposte to Woolf somewhat influenced by the work of Our Lady of Straw, CamillePaglia. 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 ...

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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... dashes from room to room trying to warn Bayard that one or other star lecturer is about to get his hands on the fatal document. At every turn there are distractions: Noam Chomsky making out with CamillePaglia, ‘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 ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott

23 May 2019
White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... a hazy line between iconoclast and curmudgeon, and he lands on the scrubby side of it. He doesn’t have the theatrical attack and crusading passion of a true iconoclast, a Christopher Hitchens or CamillePaglia; 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 ...

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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... Angier describes her book as ‘liberation biology’. In this she is oddly close to Greer – ‘a woman’s body is the battlefield where she fights for liberation’ – but light-years from CamillePaglia (‘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 ...

Diary

Carolyne Wright: Taslima Nasreen gets them going

8 September 1994
... does this help the women’s cause?’ he asked. As I listened to these comments from liberal-minded Bengalis, I tried to think of an analogous personality in the West. The name that came to mind was CamillePaglia. 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 ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey

4 March 2004
Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... follows, quite naturally, that he is also a writer with disciples of his own, having been described in reviews of his previous books as a ‘beauhunk’, ‘the gay antichrist’, and ‘the male gay CamillePaglia’, the last a duplicitous kiss if ever there was one. Simpson invented the term ‘metrosexual’ – something about men using moisturiser and being the new narcissists and a bit unfussed ...

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