A History of Celibacy: From Athena to Elizabeth I, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence Nightingale, Ghandi and Cher

A History of Celibacy: From Athena to Elizabeth I, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence Nightingale, Ghandi and Cher

by Elizabeth Abbott
     
 
This surprise bestseller from Canada traces the groups and individuals who are part of a timeless phenomenon that transcends culture and religion.

Joan of Arc was one. So was Sir Isaac Newton. A monk vows to be one. A prisoner has no choice. History tells of many avowed celibates, and today's society reflects a renewed interest in celibacy. But what caused--and

Overview

This surprise bestseller from Canada traces the groups and individuals who are part of a timeless phenomenon that transcends culture and religion.

Joan of Arc was one. So was Sir Isaac Newton. A monk vows to be one. A prisoner has no choice. History tells of many avowed celibates, and today's society reflects a renewed interest in celibacy. But what caused--and still causes--people to give up sex, the very activity that drives, fascinates, troubles, and delights the rest of us?

Elizabeth Abbott's spirited and provocative exploration of celibacy debunks the traditionally held notion that celibacy is a predominantly religious concept of little concern to the secular world. With myriad examples, Abbott's lively history reveals insights not only about our religious practices but also about our sexual desires and changing attitudes toward gender and physical health.

From the vestal virgins of ancient Rome, who were entombed alive if they broke their vows, to contemporary athletes, who "conserve semen" to enhance their game, from celibacy as a guarantee for marriage to involuntary celibacy among prisoners, eunuchs, and young women cloistered against their will, Abbott puts a human face on celibacy, capturing the anguish of the castrated boy destined for an operatic career, the ecstasy of the woman whose celibacy is rewarded by visions of Christ, and the anger of the bachelor doomed by the surplus of males in contemporary China.

What didn't happen in the bedrooms of history, and why? Through stories of individual lives--fascinating, vital, and real--A History of Celibacy tells all.

Editorial Reviews

Kian Stave
This exhaustive history of the human celibate experiment consumed six years of the author Elizabeth Abbott's life, and is still acting as a poltergeist in mine, several weeks after putting it down. In fact, it's become something of a crusade for me to seduce people into reading it whenever I can....Your mind will be completely blown away by this book, not only because of how intricate and compelling the phenomenon is, but also by why it will always be with us, and, judging by the growing popularity of the modern chastity movement (True Love Waits), why it is making such a strong comeback.
BUST Magazine
Library Journal - Library Journal
Celibacy: it's not just a matter of religious conviction, argues the dean of women at Trinity College. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Megan Harlan
Abbott's look at celibacy is a fresh take on the history of sex—which is perhaps why this juicy tome was a surprise best-seller in Canda, where its author is dean at the University of Toronto.
Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684849430
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
05/15/2000
Edition description:
1ST SCRIB.
Pages:
496
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.35(d)

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