The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause


"A brilliant, gutsy, exhilarating, exasperating fury of a book."
In this compulsively readable, fascinating account of menopause, renowned feminist and author Germaine Greer gives us so much more than the medical facts. She has gone back into history, read textbooks, explored novels and poems, and has written a wholly extraordinary account of women and their changes in life.

With outrage and ...

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"A brilliant, gutsy, exhilarating, exasperating fury of a book."
In this compulsively readable, fascinating account of menopause, renowned feminist and author Germaine Greer gives us so much more than the medical facts. She has gone back into history, read textbooks, explored novels and poems, and has written a wholly extraordinary account of women and their changes in life.

With outrage and compassion, insight and scholarship, the internationally bestselling author of The Female Eunuch confronts the subject of menopause. "A brilliant, gutsy, exhilarating, bruising, exasperating fury of a book."--The New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Menopause, Greer believes, should be a time of stock-taking, of spiritual as well as physical change, when the middle-aged woman, rejecting the roles held out by patriarchal society, attains a mature serenity and power. In a wise, witty and inspiring book, she rebukes doctors, psychiatrists--and women themselves--who blame the aging female for her menopausal distress. Skeptical of hormone replacement therapy, which she views as a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, Greer asserts that the ``climacteric syndrome,'' marked by depression, fatigue and irritability, is treatable by holistic medicine. Tweaking ``hardy perennials'' like Joan Collins and Helen Gurley Brown who, in Greer's opinion, refuse to grow old gracefully, she urges women to devise their own private ways of marking the menopause and puts forth the Witch and the Crone of history and literature as role models. Greer dispels all manner of myths and misconceptions about menopause. 50,000 first printing; Literary Guild alternate. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Greer ( The Female Eunuch , LJ 4/14/71; Daddy, We Hardly Knew You , LJ 1/90) turns the clear light of her ferocious intelligence on what she calls ``the undescribed experience,'' the female climacteric--menopause. She has read everything : medical treatises, herbaries, historical letters, the few literary works that treat this universal aspect of female experience. At last, she says, women get to decide: Whether they wish to spend the second half of their lives in a ghastly re-creation of culturally approved youth, or whether menopause ``marks the end of apologizing'' and the beginning of a search for deep joy for and in oneself. She notes that the pitifully small amount of research done does not yet indicate the real causes for menopausal distress such as hot flashes, nor does it untangle the symptoms of plain aging from the cessation of monthly periods. She decries the lack of role models for the aging woman but does find us a few: the courtesan Ninon de Lenclos, whose intelligence charmed male and female alike into her advanced age; Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), who wielded her old woman's power into lapidary prose; Jane Digby El Mezrab, who at 47 enchanted a sheik, who rode by her side for 30 more years. Not the least of models is Greer herself, whose fine and hard-edged voice makes life after the cessation of childbearing sound, if difficult and harrowing, also joyful and rich in reward. Far superior to Gail Sheehy's The Silent Passage ( LJ 4/1/92), this is highly recommended for all collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.-- GraceAnne A. DeCandido, ``School Library Journal''
Kirkus Reviews
It may be that menopause saw Greer (Daddy, We Hardly Knew You, 1989, etc.) coming and quaked, for surely the subject will never be quite the same again. Women, contends Greer, need not feel helpless in the face of what she calls "the fifth climacteric" (the others are birth, menstruation, defloration, and childbirth). "The climacteric marks the end of apologizing," says Greer, and her book will give the committed reader the information she needs to begin to change into the author's ideal of a serene and powerful woman "climbing her own mountain, in search of her own horizon." Writing no mere paean to the glories of life over 50, Greer looks at menopause through history and literature, skewering the medical establishment—the "Masters of Menopause"—for its ignorance on the subject after so many centuries, and suggesting her own theories when others fall short (for instance, that menopausal symptoms may reflect too much estrogen, not too little). Differentiating between misery (self- pitying old women longing for their youth and sexuality) and legitimate grief (for the loss of the womb), Greer combs literature for positive images of older women, finding few in fiction—or real life. Even Colette and Simone de Beauvoir have little that is positive or optimistic to say about growing older. Mme. de Maintenon, mistress of Louis XIV, and actress Joan Collins, among others, do. Intensively researched, intelligently written, this erudite, literate work—a brilliant philosophical complement to Gail Sheehy's bestselling The Silent Passage (p. 381)—should inspire change in how we think about The Change.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449908532
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1993
  • Pages: 422
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer is a writer, academic, and critic, and is widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of our time. Her bestselling books include The Female Eunuch and The Whole Woman. She lives in northwest Essex, England, and has taught Shakespeare at universities in Australia, Britain, and the United States.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 The Undescribed Experience 11
2 No Rite of Passage 32
3 The Lucky Ones 56
4 The Unlucky Ones 79
5 All Your Own Fault 103
6 The Unavoidable Consequences 123
7 Medical Ignorance 140
8 The Treatments - Allopathic 160
9 The Treatments - Traditional 185
10 The Treatments - Alternative 214
11 Misery 235
12 Grief 257
13 Sex and the Single Crone 280
14 The Aged Wife 305
15 The Hardy Perennials 326
16 The Old Witch 343
17 Serenity and Power 363
Notes 389
Index 411
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