Greer, Untamed Shrew
Macmillan, $35 hb, 386 pp
Christine Wallace’s book, in twelve chapters, is actually two books. Chapters 1-7 deal with Greer’s childhood and family, secondary and university education including MA and PhD theses, her sexual history and engagement with the counterculture in Britain which pivots around writing for Oz, her career as a groupie and membership of the Suck editorial team. Events are arranged chronologically but it’s often hard to work out the date (and thus Greer’s age), whether she’s in Melbourne or Sydney and, since the chapters are of very different lengths, how much has been included or omitted.
At page 78 the genesis of The Female Eunuch is set out and the book shifts in style and orientation. The remaining five chapters deal with the first famous book and a number, but not all, of Greer’s subsequent output as a polemical and academic writer counterpointed against her realisation of her own infertility, the onset of menopause, recurrent depression and a truly consummate ability to deal with the media. These chapters return to The Female Eunuch as though returning to the scene of the crime.