Friday, September 29, 2017

Kate Millett v Norman Mailer


Here's a wonderful essay on Kate Millett and on what she got wrong (among other things?) in Sexual Politics. 

But apart from Shulevitz's main argument, concerning Millett's deep dissing of family, I'm shocked ands dismayed (not really, more bemused) to read her taking Millett's side in her contretemps with Mailer as it came out in his Prisoner Of Sex. 

Shulevitz is a whip smart, erudite and feet on the ground intellectual whose judgments I presumptively trust and have confidence in. Hence my shock/dismay/really bemusement: when I read Prisoner Of Sex many decades ago, around 1970, I thought it was great literary criticism as Mailer championed Hemingway, Lawence and Miller. I thought it marked Mailer as an extraordinary literary critic. I thought he was in brilliantly sympathetic tune with the writers he championed and what they literarily made of sex. And I thought he quite put Millett and other feminist critics like Susan Brownmiller in their boxed-in, mechanistic place, especially when it came to their critical treatment of sex. 

With Shulevitz siding with Millett over Mailer, I see that I have to reassess my long ago judgments. Maybe, they were the result of my then impressionable callowness, of not enough raised consciousness.

I'll at a minimum have to reread Prisoner Of Sex. 

Anyway here's the essay, a must read I'd think for anyone interested in these kinds of goings on.

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