GERMAINE GREER by Christine Wallace


Untamed Shrew
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An unauthorized and exhaustive biography of the author still best known for her 1971 feminist polemic The Female Eunuch. Wallace is a journalist and writer based in Australia, where Greer was born and educated by Roman Catholic nuns. Although Greer apparently objected strenuously to this biography and offered no cooperation, Wallace was able to tap sources worldwide, including those in Australia who knew the controversial author as either a well-behaved schoolgirl, a budding actress, or a flamboyant graduate student, challenging sexual and social mores. Her anti-authoritarian social philosophy was formed on the fringes of Australian academe, while she wrote a master’s thesis on Lord Byron that ignored his misogyny. Later, at England’s Cambridge University, her Ph.D. thesis included an analysis of The Taming of the Shrew. One of her conclusions: “There is hardly a woman alive who is not deeply attracted to . . . a man capable of . . . exercising [Petruchio’s] kind of sexual and domestic dominion.” Greer went on to become a 1960s groupie, teaching college courses during the day, bedding down with rock stars at night, and writing about it for magazines like Suck. Within a few years, The Female Eunuch had made her an international evangelist for a brand of countercultural feminism that eschewed sisterhood in favor of sex, but also examined the dynamics of marriage and women’s low self-esteem. Greer wrote other books, including a moving memoir about her emotionally absent father, yet none created the stir of her first. Now settled on a farm in England, she remains a favorite talk-show guest because of her sharp wit and still contentious opinions, and is said to have a new book in the works to be published this year. Ambivalent to women, wavering in her commitment to truth in Wallace’s portrait, Greer remains a flawed but fascinating subject. (16 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-571-19934-8
Page count: 360pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999


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