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Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the…

Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the Fierce Order of Virility (1939)

by Michel Leiris

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French (2)  English (1)  All (3)
Leiris was briefly a Surrealist poet, and was also something of an archeologist/anthropologist. A firm grounding in Freud and a childhood steeped in classical literature give him ample symbolic tools with which to deconstruct his miserable early life. We get his dreams, his catastrophic attempts to lose his virginity, his detailed fetishistic feelings about Judith and Lucretia, and his symbolic imaginings about childhood injuries. Nothing is off-limits, from Leiris' first childhood woody, to jacking off and ejaculating on the stone altar at a Greek temple of Zeus as an adult, all the while imagining this act a sacrifical offering (this passage reminded me of Yukio Mishima whacking off for the first time before a painting of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian in Confessions of a Mask--my own adolescent explorations were far less adventuresome!).

Particularly interesting is the Afterword, wherein Leiris attempts to explain how a work of autobiography must be risky to the author in some respect in order to carry any true artistic merit. He uses the example of a bullfighter--if there were no chance for an impaling, matadors would be hard-pressed to find work because no audience would show up. Without the threat of a horn there is no risk, and with no risk, there's no art, and no benefit to the spectators. Leiris writes a horny text indeed. ( )
2 vote ggodfrey | Apr 23, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Leirisprimary authorall editionscalculated
芳隆, 松崎Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226471411, Paperback)

"Not only one of the frankest of autobiographies, but also a brilliantly written book, Leiris' Manhood mingles memories, philosophic reflections, sexual revelation, meditations on bullfighting, and the life-long progress of self-discovery."—Washington Post Book World

"Leiris writes to appall, and thereby to receive from his readers the gift of a strong emotion—the emotion needed to defend himself against the indignation and disgust he expects to arouse in his readers."—Susan Sontag, New York Review of Books

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:27 -0400)

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