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240 × 160 × 28 mm
304 pages
34 illustrations
01 Oct 2004
  • £19.95

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The Origin of the World Science and Fiction of the Vagina Jelto Drenth

The Origin of the World is a revealing, intimate and liberating study of female sexuality. Sexologist Jelto Drenth believes that sex is pleasurable and fulfilling, but that to enjoy it to the full you must know how it works. The author describes the workings of the vagina in simple language, giving an illustrated 'guided tour'; but this book is not merely a technical exploration of female sexuality. It examines the vagina historically, anatomically, anthropologically and biologically, drawing on many sources including medical texts, myth, science fiction and fantasy, and feminist and lesbian literature, with illuminating critical observations. The book goes back to the Middle Ages, examines non-Western cultural practices, including clitoridectomy and virginity checks, tests Freud's theories on coitus, and deals at length with sexual desire, lovemaking and orgasm. The Origin of the World is full of insights from the most diverse quarters, in which stimulating poetry and romantic literature are blended with historical, anthropological and medical data. A well-illustrated, truly encyclopaedic work, it is at the same time a lightly written, occasionally humorous exploration of a subject close to us all. Both women and men alike will find this book engaging and informative, and will discover a great deal - about themselves as well as the opposite sex.

‘I admit I opened this book with trepidation: a book on the vagina by a man? However, I found it an engrossing read: amusing, frightening, and informative in turns. Drenth has provided an excellent basic resource for thinking about women's genitalia as more than flesh and function and as more than representation.’ — British Medical Journal

‘Straddling the genres of popular science, literary criticism, how-to, and cultural studies, this 289-page tome is packed with fascinating facts and provocative analysis, all delivered in a quirky, thoughtful voice.’ — Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture

‘This is an important, well-written book, which deserves to become a classic.’ — De Volksrant

The Origin of the World makes infectious reading.’ — NRC Handelsblad

‘The book reads like a novel one can't put down. It is extremely well written, lucid and stimulating.’ — Psychologie Magazine

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Jelto Drenth is a sexologist at the Rutgers Foundation in Groningen, The Netherlands

1. On Femininity
2. Searching for Words
3. The Anatomy of the Female Genitals: The Facts
4. Physiology: On the (Sexual) Function of the Genital Organs
5. Virginity
6. The Power of Freudian Ideas
7. On Reproduction
8. Women's Sex Problems
9. Clitoridectomy
10. The Physician and the Uterus
11. The Vibrator
12. The Scent of Women
13. Fear and Loathing of Femininity
14. Idealization and Worship of the Female Genitals
Photo Acknowledgements