A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt

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The research is sound and the scholarship engaging, and the exacting prose turns humorous and almost warm when Hustvedt incorporates her personal reflections, exhibiting, as she says of the artist Louise Bourgeois, “a quick mind, interested above all in its own contents.”
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

A compelling, radical, “richly explored” (The New York Times Book Review), and “insightful” (Vanity Fair) collection of essays on art, feminism, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy from prize-winning novelist Siri Hustvedt, the acclaimed author of The Blazing World and What I Loved.

In a trilogy of works brought together in a single volume, Siri Hustvedt demonstrates the striking range and depth of her knowledge in both the humanities and the sciences. Armed with passionate curiosity, a sense of humor, and insights from many disciplines she repeatedly upends received ideas and cultural truisms.

“A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women” (which provided the title of this book) examines particular artworks but also human perception itself, including the biases that influence how we judge art, literature, and the world. Picasso, de Kooning, Louise Bourgeois, Anselm Kiefer, Susan Sontag, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Karl Ove Knausgaard all come under Hustvedt’s intense scrutiny. “The Delusions of Certainty” exposes how the age-old, unresolved mind-body problem has shaped and often distorted and confused contemporary thought in neuroscience, psychiatry, genetics, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary psychology. “What Are We? Lectures on the Human Condition” includes a powerful reading of Kierkegaard, a trenchant analysis of suicide, and penetrating reflections on the mysteries of hysteria, synesthesia, memory and space, and the philosophical dilemmas of fiction.

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women is an “erudite” (Booklist), “wide-ranging, irreverent, and absorbing meditation on thinking, knowing, and being” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
 

About Siri Hustvedt

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Siri Hustvedt was born in 1955 in Northfield, Minnesota. She has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English literature and is the internationally acclaimed author of five novels, The Sorrows of an American, What I Loved, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, The Blindfold, and The Summer Without Men, as well as a growing body of nonfiction including, A Plea for Eros and Mysteries of the Rectangle, and an interdisciplinary investigation of the body and mind in The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves. She has given lectures on artists and theories of art at the Prado, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. In 2011, she delivered the thirty-ninth annual Freud Lecture in Vienna.She lives in Brooklyn.
 
Published December 6, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. 577 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Law & Philosophy, Nature & Wildlife, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jun 21 2017

The research is sound and the scholarship engaging, and the exacting prose turns humorous and almost warm when Hustvedt incorporates her personal reflections, exhibiting, as she says of the artist Louise Bourgeois, “a quick mind, interested above all in its own contents.”

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Claire Kohda Hazelton on Aug 24 2017

Its soul is in the connections it draws between disparate subjects, through which Hustvedt manages to shrink the world into something comprehensible.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Terra Arnone on Jan 06 2017

A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women is an important book. Sometimes that’s a nice way of saying it is also a slog. Here and there that has some truth, but standout chapters parsed manageably and written in clean, charming prose make the book rewarding in its whole.

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