A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women
Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind
By Siri Hustvedt
Read by Caitlin Thorburn
A trail-blazing and inspiring collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology by the internationally bestselling novelist Siri Hustvedt
As well as being a prize-winning, bestselling novelist, Siri Hustvedt is widely regarded as a leading thinker in the fields of neurology, feminism, art criticism and philosophy. She believes passionately that art and science are too often kept separate and that conversations across disciplines are vital to increasing our knowledge of the human mind and body, how they connect and how we think, feel and see.
The essays in this volume - all written between 2011 and 2015 - are in three parts. A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women brings together penetrating pieces on particular artists and writers such as Picasso, Kiefer and Susan Sontag as well as essays investigating the biases that affect how we judge art, literature, and the world in general. The Delusions of Certainty is an essay about the mind/body problem, showing how this age-old philosophical puzzle has shaped contemporary debates on many subjects and how every discipline is coloured by what lies beyond argument-desire, belief, and the imagination. The essays in the final section, What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition, tackle such elusive neurological disorders as synesthesia and hysteria. Drawing on research in sociology, neurobiology, history, genetics, statistics, psychology and psychiatry, this section also contains a profound consideration of suicide and a towering reconsideration of Kierkegaard. Together they form an extremely stimulating, thoughtful, wide-ranging exploration of some of the fundamental questions about human beings and the human condition, delivered with Siri Hustvedt's customary lucidity, vivacity and infectiously questioning intelligence.
(P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton
Siri Hustvedt's first novel, The Blindfold, was published by Sceptre in 1993. Since then she has published The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American, The Summer Without Men and The Blazing World, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014 and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She is also the author of the poetry collection Reading To You, The Shaking Woman: A History of My Nerves, and four collections of essays - Yonder, Mysteries of the Rectangle: Essays on Painting, A Plea for Eros and Living, Thinking, Looking.
Born in Minnesota, Siri Hustvedt now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has a PhD in English from Columbia University and in 2012 was awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities.
She delivered the Schelling Lecture in Aesthetics in Munich in 2010, the Freud Lecture in Vienna in 2011 and the opening keynote at the conference to mark Kierkegaard's 200th anniversary in Copenhagen in 2013, while her latest honorary doctorate is from the University of Gutenburg in Germany. She is also Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical School and has written on art for the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and several exhibition catalogues.
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- Publication date:
01 Dec 2016
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This is a phenomenal book. Its soul is in the connections it draws between disparate subjects, through which Hustvedt manages to shrink the world into something comprehensible. — Claire Kohda Hazelton, Guardian
A writer with an unusual blend of incisive intelligence, humour and imagination. There is a moving essay on the blurring of gender in Louise Bourgeois and a brilliantly comic analysis of Karl Ove Knausgaard . . . She is able to combine [a] personal perspective with erudite analysis and, as the personal perspective is at the forefront, she is always open to uncertainty, which she sees, rightly, as itself a political stance . . . as the complicated warnings of experts are decried and swaggering lies broadcast on the news, this kind of uncertainty matters more than ever . . . We are fortunate to have Hustvedt voicing doubt so intelligently. — Lara Feigel, Financial Times
It is obvious that hers is a great mind that is constantly exploring, searching, "becoming" . . . An impressive collection by a novelist who clearly loves the humanities, the sciences and the ancient art of storytelling. But Hustvedt is not only a writer. She is also a passionate reader and therein lies the secret of this book . . . Here is a great book that invites reading . . . not only to 'look at a woman writer looking at men looking at women', but also to look within, deep inside the recesses of our minds, so as to recognise the fascinating complexity but also the heartbreaking fragility of human existence. — Elif Shafak, Observer
[The Delusions of Certainty] reads like the work of a talented teacher who has the drive and the ability to organise and present - in an exceptionally clear, clean, even limpid voice - a monumental amount of abstract information. It's hard to overstate the pleasure and the comfort that such demystification provides the scientifically uninitiated; it does indeed make the world feel larger, more expansive, more alive to the touch — New York Times Book Review
Few writers eviscerate bias and flawed logic as elegantly and ruthlessly as Hustvedt . . . she expertly flays assertions about biological and psychological sex differences . . . Hustvedt does not resolve her many questions, but her exhilarating conclusion testifies to the virtues of doubt . . . Her work is cerebral but also warm, deeply felt. — Washington Post
[Hustvedt] impresses as a writer of blazing intelligence and curiosity . . . This is fertile and fascinating territory for scientists and humanists alike. — Prospect
[An] erudite collection . . . The book conveys the wide range of Hustvedt's reading as she focuses on the interstices between people; between disciplines; and between concepts such as art and science, truth and fiction, feeling and perception. The research is sound and the scholarship engaging, and the exacting prose turns humorous and almost warm when Hustvedt incorporates her personal reflections — Publishers Weekly
A wide-ranging, irreverent, and absorbing meditation on thinking, knowing, and being — Kirkus Reviews