Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

216 × 138 × 26 mm
256 pages
27 illustrations
01 Feb 2012
  • £25.00

  • This edition is currently unavailable

With the Hand A Cultural History of Masturbation Mels van Driel
Translated by Paul Vincent

Most women do it at home; men, it seems, do it everywhere. Some consider it a health treatment, others as love for themselves. Yet despite everyone doing it, no one actually talks about it: masturbation is still taboo, and even today the subject is not discussed at dinner parties or soirées. To help the world overcome its diffidence towards solo sex Mels van Driel has written With the Hand. Consulting theologians, historians, classicists, doctors, sexologists, connoisseurs, artists, philosophers, writers, poets, musicians, feminists and chauvinists, Van Driel answers questions about what masturbation actually is, and describes the latest discoveries and developments in the field.

Covering a great number of topics, from the physical, to the mythical, to the mythological, to the artistic, this book explores masturbation in all its astonishing variety. From statistics of age, location and frequency, to the effects of circumcision, to multiple orgasms, he also explores masturbation in art, literature, poetry, song, religion and philosophy.

Frequently astounding, often humorous and always informative, With the Hand refutes the many myths and confusion surrounding this universal, yet unmentionable pursuit. Making an unusual gift, this is perhaps the ultimate bedtime book.

‘It makes for compelling reading, partly because van Driel has a fine sense of humour, but also because he knows his subject, in particular the causes of the taboo surrounding masturbation.’ — Style, Sunday Times

‘an enjoyable, human and humane study of attitudes to masturbation in science, sexology, education, religion, philosophy, art, song and literature, from ancient Egypt to the present . . . The history of masturbation is necessarily a history of attitudes to the body, to fantasy, love and intimacy. The book abounds with interesting material . . . The author has an eye for a good anecdote.’ — Independent Review

‘His book is exactly what youd expect a Dutch urologist's to be: clear-sighted, wry and relentlessly liberal . . . provides splendid material for party conversation.’ — Culture, Sunday Times

‘an enthusiastic, amusing and eye-opening exploration of a topic which remains disappointingly taboo.’ — New Scientist

‘When his stethoscope is about his neck, the M.D. employs all the unvarnished plainspokenness of any health-care professional. But when he entertains historical, literary, and other arts-and-humanities perspectives, he is as curious and open to surprise as any cultural critic.’ — Chronicle of Higher Education

‘a well thought out, broadly focused addition to the public discussion of this very private activity . . . Mr. van Driel writes well and approaches the difficult topic of masturbation with openness and academic rigor. The book looks at a raft of different opinions and perspectives on masturbation and contains elements that may be confrontational for people on either side of the debate.’ — New York Journal of Books

Show all

Mels van Driel is a consultant urologist and sexologist at Groningen University Medical Centre in The Netherlands. He has written widely for scientific publications, newspapers and magazines, and is the author of Manhood: The Rise and Fall of the Penis (Reaktion, 2009).

1. Introduction
2. Ages, Locations and Frequencies
3. Education
4. Sex Aids
5. Animals
6. Doctors and Other Scientists
7. Culture, Religions and Philosophers
8. Writers and Poets
9. Entertainment
10. Artists
11. In Conclusion

Biographical Sources
Photo Acknowledgements