Synopses & Reviews
Stone Age man invented it, the Sumerians exalted it, the Christians banned it, and Freud got it wrong. Over the last century, castration has meant loss of manhood. But at earlier points in Western history, Gary Taylor argues, it was a mark of power and divinity.
Castration is a lively and detailed history of the meaning, function, and act of castration from its place in the early Church -- where Augustine and the Fathers laid the basic philosophic concepts of sexuality and chastity -- to its secular reinvention in the Renaissance as a spiritualized form of masculinity and its twentieth-century position at the core of psychoanalytic theory.
With wit and insight, Taylor shows that castration is not now, nor has it always been, about loss. In the medieval tale of Abelard and Heloise a violent castration makes Abelard a better theologian. In the year two thousand a sterile but otherwise functioning man is a boon to the woman who desires sex without the burdens of pregnancy.
Clever, offbeat, and learned, Castration turns an unusual and discomforting topic into a thoroughly enjoyable narrative of man's obsessive relationship to his penis, his sexuality, and his manhood.
"Castration" is a lively history of the meaning, function, and act of castration from its place in the early church to its secular reinvention in the Renaissance as a spiritualized form of masculinity and its 20th century position at the core of psychoanalysis.