Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant


'This final, short book, is the unfolding development of a life and a mind. It reminds us that she was never primarily a political activist, but a writer and, to herself, a scholar ... Since she died last year, a victim of her enormous size, I have come to think that Andrea Dworkin was more important than I thought at the time. Linda Grant, The Jewish Quarterly

'Heartbreak confirms that every bolshy, out-spoken freedom fighter who is the anti-type of standard Western glamour, ...

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'This final, short book, is the unfolding development of a life and a mind. It reminds us that she was never primarily a political activist, but a writer and, to herself, a scholar ... Since she died last year, a victim of her enormous size, I have come to think that Andrea Dworkin was more important than I thought at the time. Linda Grant, The Jewish Quarterly

'Heartbreak confirms that every bolshy, out-spoken freedom fighter who is the anti-type of standard Western glamour, fast becomes a scapegoat for the hatred of unpopular and hard-to-sell ideas; such as feminism.' The Crack Magazine

'... explosive ... uncompromising courage ... you could not get a voice more intensely alive - in its analysis of inequities which bind and divide women across race and class, its incisive accounts of oppression and the costs of resistance, its eloquent love of creativity, and its take-no-prisoners truth-telling.' Times Literary Supplement

Heartbreak is not the memoir of a victim. Dworkin's tone is dry and humorous. Her personality is warm and likeable and, shockingly, she has a wicked sense of humour. If Dworkin had not come into prominence, first as a victim of rape and later as a campaigner against it, she might even be taking her place alongside Fay Weldon and Margaret Atwood. The Times

'pleasingly bathetic - her persecutors are finally reduced to their proper size.' Charlotte Raven, New Statesman

Always innovative, often provocative, and frequently polarizing, Andrea Dworkin carved out a unique position as one of the women's movement's most influential figures, from the early days of consciousness-raising to the "post-feminist" present. She wrote thirteen books, ranging across feminist theory, fiction and poetry. Andrea Dworkin died in April 2005.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Like the Yippie who shouted, “I’m so radical, I’m confusing,” radical feminist militant Dworkin charts her own course. In 1987, she earned a mass media niche by asserting that all sex with men is rape. Since then her forays into anti-pornography and scapegoating have reinforced her reputation as a take-no-prisoners maverick thinker. In this vigorous and surprisingly good-humored memoir, Dworkin traces her revolutions from Bennington student to urban street demonstrator to misunderstood Washington lobbyist. A refreshing view of a strong-minded woman.
Gloria Steinem
If we were to have an Old Testament prophet for feminists, it would be Andrea. But even that is not a good comparison, because she offers not just a voice of anger and justice, but also compassion and redemption.
John Berger
She is perhaps the most misrepresented writer in the western world...Her words bleed with love and her vision is oracular. The oracle accuses on behalf of those who are systematically never listened to. The accusations come, in all their stridency, from the music which was originally there in everybody. With Dworkin's words, if you really listen, you can still hear this music. And once you've heard it, you will want—however uncomfortable it is—to put yourself beside her.
Deirdre Bair
We should all treat Andrea Dworkin like a national treasure for caring enough to engage our passions—wherever upon the political or social spectrum they may fall.
St. Petersburg Times
Dworkin's story is searing and tough; inspiring for aspiring feminists, enlightening for the study of women.
Women's Review of Books
When she tells us that a woman who speaks angry truths to power takes tremendous risks, she's absolutely right, more than ever.
San Jose Mercury News
Initially, it's a heart-rending story of overcoming prostitution, escape from a violent husband, and recovery from rape. Ultimately, it's a heart-healing journey of redemption and realization.
San Jose Mercury News
A heart-healing journey of redemption and realization.
Boston Globe
Authentic, unique, and admirable.
St. Petersburg Times
Searing and tough; inspiring for aspiring feminists, enlightening for the study of women.
News & Observer
Dworkin provides a model of conscience in action that should inspire everyone of any stripe to look, to listen, to think.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this roughly chronological account of her political formation, Dworkin, a prolific writer and ardent antipornography activist, shares the moments her "memory insists on," things "it will not let go." Thus, from grade school through college (what she calls "the archetypical brothel"), there are sexually predatory teachers, morally bankrupt intellectuals and plenty of molested and "incested" victims. The moral compass of these anecdotes can be dizzying. Dworkin's pedophilic high school teacher running a "menage a quatre" with a couple of her girlfriends was "the snake" offering worldly knowledge; she was his "little Eva" going along with his games. Yet there's no restraining the venom when it comes to an overly prim junior high English teacher who had the nerve to try to comfort her when she was mad about getting a B: "I knew I'd get her someday and this is it: eat shit, bitch." Her college years yielded a few political insurrection anecdotes, followed by some European travel stories, but the narrative segues increasingly into discussions of rape and other forms of violence against women. Jail's too good for most rapists and batterers; she'd have their victims shoot them dead. When "pedophile" Allen Ginsberg fretted about being sent to jail after the Supreme Court upheld the criminalization of child porn, she wished him dead, too. She ends with a long-winded lament of "the worst immoralit[ies]" mostly concerning selling out one's principles, giving up and pretending not to see injustices which all boil down to "a single sin of human nothingness and stupidity." "I don't care about being understood," Dworkin concludes, but not being understood may be the least ofher problems here. Agent, Elaine Markson. (Mar. 1) Forecast:This memoir covers little new ground, but at least it's much shorter than Dworkin's previous works. This and the book's timing (its publication coincides with Women's History Month) may entice readers. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A controversial author (Scapegoat, 2000, etc.) offers her bitter and sad reflections on life as a feminist. Dworkin lashes right out in her preface: "I have no sense of honor," she writes, asserting that "triviality and deceit [are] the coin of the female realm." What follows are vignettes from the life that led her to that view, most of them involving examples of adult deception and coercion. In short, dense chapters, Dworkin reviews her development into a radical feminist crusader against pornography and prostitution. By the sixth grade, she says, she was a rebel, refusing to sing "Silent Night" because it celebrated Christianity and she was Jewish; she characterizes the "pretty, gutless teacher" who tried to convince her to go along as "a female collaborator." An encounter with a pedophile teacher taught her more about lying. Later, political activism led to jail and to self-imposed exile in Crete, where she taught herself to write. In Amsterdam, a battering husband drove her to prostitution; discovering the works of early second-wave feminists, she vowed to "give my life to the movement." And she has, although not always in ways that the movement finds agreeable. When Dworkin began to speak about violence and rape, women of all sorts, including third-generation prostitutes, told her their stories of abuse. The issue of pornography collided with the issue of free speech, of course, but Dworkin believes class played a part as well. Maneuvered off the podium at a NOW convention, she comments, "it became a bad feminist habit for the rich to rat out the poor." She also doesn't hesitate to characterize President Clinton as an abuser and poet Allen Ginsberg as an avowed pedophile. The lastchapter portrays women prostituted and abused as "paying the freight for all the rest." The cry of a wounded creature ("I have a heart easily hurt") who cannot or will not let the wounds heal. They fuel her crusade. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465017539
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 2/20/2002
  • Pages: 232
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Dworkin was a controversial and influential feminist writer and tireless campaigner against pornography and violence towards women. She died in April 2005. Author of 13 books, ranging across feminist theory, fiction and poetry, including Pornography, Intercourse and Scapegoat.

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Table of Contents

Music 1 Music 2 Music 3 The Pedophilic Teacher ''Silent Night'' Plato The High School Library The Bookstore The Fight The Bomb Cuba 1 David smith Contraception Young Americans for freedom Cuba 2 The Grand Jury The Orient Express Easter Knossos Kazantzakis Discipline The Freighter Strategy Suffer the Little Chilldren Theory The Vow My Last Leftist meeting Petra Kelly Capitalist Pig One Woman It Takes a Village True Grit Anita Prisons Sister, Can You Spare a Dime? The Women Counting Heartbreak Basics Immoral Memory.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2002

    feminism gone wrong

    If a man were to write a book with the same aura about it that this one has, but it were written about women, the auhtor would be labeled a sexist. Now, women are still being discriminated against, blacks, recently the arab americans (or lookalikes)and all sorts of people from all other backrounds. This book was written by a very wounded person, and I feel her pain. But to write about things the way she does, you would think that we are still in the 1920's! There are too many racial and sexist problems in society along with too many violent people demanding change. They demand equality, and all they want is an advantage for their own group, hardly ever do they want equality for ALL other groups. Equality is for all, not just the minorities.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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