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Primitive Passions

Men, Women, and the Quest for Ecstasy

Marianna Torgovnick’s Primitive Passions investigates Westerners’ profound attraction to cultures that we call "primitive." Torgovnick explores the stories of Carl Jung, Isak Dinesen, D. H. Lawrence, and Georgia O’Keefe and the ways they used the primitive as a medium for soul-searching and personal fulfillment. Brilliantly linking literature, art, psychology, and cultural studies, Primitive Passions provides insight into our very notion of the exotic.

"Primitive Passions intends to provoke thought, not to tell you what you already know and for that reason alone it’s extraordinary."—Walter Kendrick, New York Times Book Review

"A powerfully argued, impassioned, and intelligent exploration of the ’primitive’ in our culture and in ourselves. Like Marianna Torgovnick’s previous work, it is certain to be much discussed and provocative."—Joyce Carol Oates

"An inspiring effort to bring gender to bear on matters of race, ethnic identity, and spirituality."—Susan Gubar

"A fascinating, wide-ranging and provocative tour of twentieth century Western culture."—Cynthia D. Schrager, Women’s Review of Books

280 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1997

Culture Studies

Table of Contents

Pt. I: Men
Ch. 1: "What an Ecstasy It Would Have Been!": Gide and Jung in Africa
Ch. 2: "Something Stood Still in My Soul": D. H. Lawrence in New Mexico
Pt. II: Women
Ch. 3: Loving Africa: Memoirs by European Women
Ch. 4: Dian Fossey Among the Animals
Ch. 5: "The Bones and the Blue": Georgia O’Keeffe and the Female Primitive
Pt. III: Trends and Movements
Ch. 6: New American Indian/New American White
Ch. 7: Of Drums and Men
Ch. 8: Medicine Wheels and Spirituality: Primitivism in the New Age
Ch. 9: Piercings

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