Published 29 April 2021

Bookseller Review by Kath:

‘Deeply researched, illuminating facts on ground-breaking and brave men and women, some of whom were unknown to me and whose stories I was so glad to hear. This book prods us into serious thought about how we use our bodies to protest, to love, to escape into, to connect with others, and so much more. Underground movements, psychoanalysis, prisons, civil rights, gay rights, music, art, migration, sex – how the human body has been treated, mistreated, swallowed up and risen up. Never a dull page. So much to savour.’

ISBN: 9781509857111 Category: Tags: ,


‘Simply one of our most exciting writers’ Observer
‘A free-wheeling and joyful exploration of the works and lives of a range of artists and thinkers who brought libidinal and creative energy together with spectacular results’ Jack Halberstam

The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. At a moment in which basic rights are once again imperilled, Olivia Laing conducts an ambitious investigation into the body and its discontents, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to chart a daring course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, from gay rights and sexual liberation to feminism and the civil rights movement.

Drawing on her own experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and travelling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, she grapples with some of the most significant and complicated figures of the past century, among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag and Malcolm X.

Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as technologized and automated as our own. Everybody is an examination of the forces arranged against freedom and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world.

‘A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art’ Telegraph

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