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Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood Paperback – Jan 25 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (Jan. 25 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415938813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415938815
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 435 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,049,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Hardcover
Gary Taylor's "Castration" is an endlessly fascinating, provocative, and highly entertaining exploration not only of the history of the unkindest cut but of the evolving meaning of manhood from ancient times to the present, and even into the future. Scrupulously scholarly and challenging, the book is nevertheless actually fun to read. Drawing extensively on literature, religion, and psychology, Taylor methodically examines the evolution of castration and its relationship to agriculture, faith, race, gender, and science. I found his analysis of the passage from Matthew's Gospel where Jesus addresses the topic of eunuchs to be especially enlightening. Did Christ really salute self-made eunuchs? Was he really anti-family? This book will not fail to teach you, provoke you, and force you to reconsider your ideas about what manhood means.
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Format: Hardcover
I have not read this book but I am a real life Eunuch. I had my testicles surgically removed. In an Interview on Salon.com the author says "Castration does not get rid of the sexual drive, get rid of erections or any amount of sexual activity." WRONG!!! How would he know any way? He is NOT a Eunuch. He has had a vasectomy but that is totally different. I can speak from experience; when a man becomes a eunuch his sex drive drops to absolute zero. I had a very strong sex drive prior to castration but it is now completely gone. The only way for a Eunuch to regain his sex drive is to take some form of testosterone replacement. I have never heard of any real life Eunuch who was not on testosterone replacement therapy that had a sex drive. Don't waste your time on this book; the author obviously didn't do enough, if any research. If you want to learn about Eunuchs then search the web. There are a lot of us out there, and our numbers are growing.
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Format: Hardcover
According to Gary Taylor in _Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood_ (Routledge) a castrated man is just what some women would want, and have wanted for centuries. This is bound to sound peculiar to those in the twentieth century raised on Freud, or more recently those who have followed the follies of John and Lorena Bobbitt, but before Freud, castration always meant removal of the testicles, never removal of the penis. It was reproduction that was important then, and the "stones" were what mattered. Now that we have reproduced entirely enough, the "scepter" is more important. Sex for pleasure is now more vital than sex for reproduction.
Eunuchs, just like oxen, were useful. They guarded the harems, for one job, but power in the bedchamber within some societies became legal or military power. A eunuch had no testicles, but had enough genitalia left to play games in the harem. Jesus spoke highly of eunuchs, and Taylor makes the case that he was speaking literally. Augustine, however, insisted that Jesus's words were an allegory to promote priestly celibacy.
Taylor is a Shakespearean scholar (the editor of the Oxford Shakespeare), and in a show of scholarly breadth cites plenty of the Bard, but cites also other Elizabethan playwrights as well as Tori Amos and Christina Aguilera. Funny, provocative, scholarly, and decidedly offbeat, _Castration_ is a witty tour-de-force.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martin L. Bring on June 29 2003
Format: Paperback
If you wish to read something for entertainment's sake, then this book will suffice. Written by an English Professor, this book lacks the sort of critical thought those of us in the science deptartments want for. Purportedly an 'Abbreviated History Of Western Manhood,' it is rather an exercise in academic arcana - an attempt to think of something through its opposite or, in this case, its abuse. One is hardly compelled to reconsider ideas about what manhood means. There is nothing in Taylor's "treatise" to support such nonsense as, "This is a specter that has haunted men for centuries: the fear that manhood will become, or has already become, obsolete, superfluous, ridiculous, at best quaint, at worst disgusting." Really? In whose misandrist manifesto? The concept "Western Man" is, after all, just that - a concept. There is no such unified and homogeneous group and no such "specter" has haunted it for so long. That men should cringe at the word castration is less a mystery than than why women should fear rape. Taylor's analysis of the history and purposes of castration shed less light on the "cultural construct of masculinity" than on the sadistic sexual abuse and humiliation with which males can be threatened and subjugated. Taylor's treatment of castration is typically immature so his readers may think him funny or witty. Today's attitudes toward manhood and males are best understood in terms of our lacking moral sympathies toward them. Taylor's book is no exception. We are not a generation influenced by Freud so much as by feminism. The historical abuse and mutilation of women is a subject deadly serious and pertinent to us while the sexual abuse and humiliation of men is treated like something that never happened - a fictional interpretation - something to be mocked and made light of.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
A Unique History of Eunuchs Dec 25 2000
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
According to Gary Taylor in _Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood_ (Routledge) a castrated man is just what some women would want, and have wanted for centuries. This is bound to sound peculiar to those in the twentieth century raised on Freud, or more recently those who have followed the follies of John and Lorena Bobbitt, but before Freud, castration always meant removal of the testicles, never removal of the penis. It was reproduction that was important then, and the "stones" were what mattered. Now that we have reproduced entirely enough, the "scepter" is more important. Sex for pleasure is now more vital than sex for reproduction.
Eunuchs, just like oxen, were useful. They guarded the harems, for one job, but power in the bedchamber within some societies became legal or military power. A eunuch had no testicles, but had enough genitalia left to play games in the harem. Jesus spoke highly of eunuchs, and Taylor makes the case that he was speaking literally. Augustine, however, insisted that Jesus's words were an allegory to promote priestly celibacy.
Taylor is a Shakespearean scholar (the editor of the Oxford Shakespeare), and in a show of scholarly breadth cites plenty of the Bard, but cites also other Elizabethan playwrights as well as Tori Amos and Christina Aguilera. Funny, provocative, scholarly, and decidedly offbeat, _Castration_ is a witty tour-de-force.
A different kind of topic Aug. 14 2013
By Tall Paul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found it a rather useless book. Didn't catch what it was rellay trying to portray. Not worth bothering with.
38 of 60 people found the following review helpful
What a real Eunuch has to say. Aug. 2 2001
By The Real Eunuch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have not read this book but I am a real life Eunuch. I had my testicles surgically removed. In an Interview on Salon.com the author says "Castration does not get rid of the sexual drive, get rid of erections or any amount of sexual activity." WRONG!!! How would he know any way? He is NOT a Eunuch. He has had a vasectomy but that is totally different. I can speak from experience; when a man becomes a eunuch his sex drive drops to absolute zero. I had a very strong sex drive prior to castration but it is now completely gone. The only way for a Eunuch to regain his sex drive is to take some form of testosterone replacement. I have never heard of any real life Eunuch who was not on testosterone replacement therapy that had a sex drive. Don't waste your time on this book; the author obviously didn't do enough, if any research. If you want to learn about Eunuchs then search the web. There are a lot of us out there, and our numbers are growing.
12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Scholarly nonsense June 29 2003
By Martin L. Bring - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you wish to read something for entertainment's sake, then this book will suffice. Written by an English Professor, this book lacks the sort of critical thought those of us in the science deptartments want for. Purportedly an 'Abbreviated History Of Western Manhood,' it is rather an exercise in academic arcana - an attempt to think of something through its opposite or, in this case, its abuse. One is hardly compelled to reconsider ideas about what manhood means. There is nothing in Taylor's "treatise" to support such nonsense as, "This is a specter that has haunted men for centuries: the fear that manhood will become, or has already become, obsolete, superfluous, ridiculous, at best quaint, at worst disgusting." Really? In whose misandrist manifesto? The concept "Western Man" is, after all, just that - a concept. There is no such unified and homogeneous group and no such "specter" has haunted it for so long. That men should cringe at the word castration is less a mystery than than why women should fear rape. In short, Taylor's analysis of the history and purposes of castration sheds less light on the "cultural construct of masculinity" than on the sadistic sexual abuse and humiliation with which males can be threatened and subjugated. That some of his readers find him witty or funny at times is only because Taylor's treatment of his subject is often sophmoric.

In my view, today's attitudes toward manhood and males are best understood in terms of our lacking moral sympathies toward them. Taylor's book is no exception. We are not a generation influenced by Freud so much as by feminism. Thus, the historical abuse and mutilation of women is a subject deadly serious and pertinent to us while the sexual abuse and humiliation of men is treated like something that never happened - that is, something we've misconstured, or, in Tayor's case, given a fictional reinterpretation, mocked and trivalized. Taylor's ignorant belief (not first person, of course) about the sexual prowess of eunuchs is one case in point. Another case in point is Tayor's view that for most of western history castration was a mark of power and divinity and, as the ultimate abrogation of sexual desire, had wide spread currency among Christian metaphysicians. This is nonsense. Taylor is arguing anecdotally to his own foregone conclusions. He wasn't there to take any polls. No doubt, some Christian cults managed to appropriate practices of sexual mutilation already in place - just as Christian nihilism helped to make slavery seem worthy. This did not, however, make such practices any more agreeable as hardly anyone wanted to suffer either condition themselves. In any case, the spiritualized feelings attained by some Christian monks through self mutilation would have appalled the Greeks - the paragons of western civilization - as it has most men throughout all of human history.

Taylor's book about castration will score a few points for the concept of cultural relativism on a subject that now seems, at best, uncontroversial or, at worst, comic to the immature. Should he chose to write volumes exploring the gamut of humanity's attitudes regarding every other form of sexual nastiness, he will no doubt find endless tolerance to be feted as well. Would he dare?
7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
True Testimony: "Castration" is a Great Book April 2 2002
By Mannix - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gary Taylor's "Castration" is an endlessly fascinating, provocative, and highly entertaining exploration not only of the history of the unkindest cut but of the evolving meaning of manhood from ancient times to the present, and even into the future. Scrupulously scholarly and challenging, the book is nevertheless actually fun to read. Drawing extensively on literature, religion, and psychology, Taylor methodically examines the evolution of castration and its relationship to agriculture, faith, race, gender, and science. I found his analysis of the passage from Matthew's Gospel where Jesus addresses the topic of eunuchs to be especially enlightening. Did Christ really salute self-made eunuchs? Was he really anti-family? This book will not fail to teach you, provoke you, and force you to reconsider your ideas about what manhood means.

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