Review: McLaren, Impotence
Impotence: A Cultural History, a forthcoming work from Angus McLaren, is a detailed exploration of the cultural history of sexual impotence through the entire course of human civilization. Serious, as well as, of course, highly entertaining, the book is an eloquent demonstration of how cultural attitudes regarding male sexual potency have transformed throughout the ages. An advance review published last week in the Library Journal summarizes the work nicely:
Once seen mainly as a function of siring children, [male sexual potency] is now regarded as an important component of a healthy emotional state. McLaren offers a dynamic survey of masculinity, perceptions of impotence, and the never-ending search for help with male sexual dysfunction. He starts with the Greek and Roman view of male potency, then moves to the understanding of impotence during the early Christian era, the Age of Reason, the 19th century, the Freudian era, and the rise of modern medical research as exemplified by the famous Kinsey and Masters and Johnson studies. The author ends with a timely, thoughtful analysis of the contemporary approach, driven by major drug companies.
From marriage manuals to metrosexuals, from Renaissance Italy to Hollywood movies, Impotence is an insightful examination of a problem that humanity has simultaneously regarded as life’s greatest tragedy and its greatest joke.
Impotence is currently scheduled for release in a week or two and official publication in April.
Updated May 1: We now have an online feature drawn from the book: “Two Millennia of Impotence Cures.” Enjoy!