The Scandal of Pleasure by Wendy Steiner
Art in an Age of Fundamentalism

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Surveying a wide range of cultural controversies, from the Mapplethorpe affair to Salman Rushdie's death sentence, from canon-revision in the academy to the scandals that have surrounded Anthony Blunt, Martin Heidegger, and Paul de Man, Wendy Steiner shows that the fear and outrage they inspired are the result of dangerous misunderstanding about the relationship between art and life.

"Stimulating. . . . A splendid rebuttal of those on the left and right who think that the pleasures induced by art are trivial or dangerous. . . . One of the most powerful defenses of the potentiality of art."—Andrew Delbanco, New York Times Book Review

"A concise and . . . readable account of recent contretemps that have galvanized the debate over the role and purposes of art. . . . [Steiner] writes passionately about what she believes in."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

"This is one of the few works of cultural criticism that is actually intelligible to the nonspecialist reader. . . . Steiner's perspective is fresh and her perceptions invariably shrewd, far-ranging, and reasonable. A welcome association of sense and sensibility."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Steiner has succeeded so well in [the] task she has undertaken. The Scandal of Pleasure is itself characterized by many of the qualities Steiner demans of art, among them, complexity, tolerance and the pleasures of unfettered thought."—Eleanor Heartly, Art in America

"Steiner . . . provides the best and clearest short presentation of each of [the] debates."—Alexander Nehamas, Boston Book Review

"Steiner has done a fine job as a historian/reporter and as a writer of sophisticated, very clear, cultural criticism. Her reportage alone would be enough to make this a distinguished book."—Mark Edmundson, Lingua Franca

About Wendy Steiner

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Wendy Steiner is the Richard L. Fisher Professor of English and Director of the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of "The Scandal of Pleasure" and has written for the "Independent, " the "Times Literary Supplement, " the "London Review of Books, The Guardian, " and "The New York Times." She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Published December 18, 1995 by University Of Chicago Press. 263 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Arts & Photography, Law & Philosophy, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Scandal of Pleasure

Kirkus Reviews

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Ranging from the S&M photos of Robert Mapplethorpe to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie to that discredited doyen of deconstructionism, Paul de Man, Steiner argues for a conception of art that cuts between aestheticism (art for art's sake) and literalism (that dull province of feminists such as Ca...

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Publishers Weekly

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Art is a ""virtual"" pleasure that indulges our taste for sublimity and acts as a proving ground for liberalism, argues the noted English professor.

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Publishers Weekly

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The anti-pornography campaign of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin ignores reports that no solid evidence exists to link pornography with rape or child abuse, declares Steiner, who castigates their militant feminism as an ``unholy alliance between the far left and the far right.'' Interpreti...

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London Review of Books

The people who want Mapplethorpe’s pictures off the wall, like the people who want Rushdie’s head off his shoulders, fail to respect the ‘virtually’ of art, its ability to entertain a human possibility without necessarily proposing it as an absolute virtue.

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