American author Erica Jong at 60
By Gisela Ostwald Mar 22, 2007, 6:03 GMT
New York 'I have moments when I'm no longer aware of what's going on around me, apart from men and the vibrations they cause in my different body parts.'
It was with statements like that that Erica Jong broke a few taboos 30 years ago.
In her first novel, Fear of Flying (1973), the New York-born author wrote explicitly about her sexual fantasies and practices. Henry Miller praised the book as a legitimate counter-weight to his legendary novel Tropic of Cancer.
Although Jong is not afraid of being confrontational, she does not look back fondly on the scandal that followed the publication of her book.
'I was called a whore and a slut,' says Jong in an interview for the German magazine Stern.
Jong went on to write several more novels and books of poetry but in her memoir, Seducing the Demon: My Life as a Writer (2006), she says she never managed to shake off the label of a sex-author.
Jong will celebrate 65th birthday this 26 March. She lives together with her fourth husband in New York and lectures on literature at university.
She fanned the flames of controversy in 1995 with the publication of the book, Fear of 50: A Midlife Memoir.
In the autobiography she speaks plainly about her unconventional youth, her early success as an author, her four turbulent marriages and her relationship to her daughter Molly.
Molly, an author in her own right, has only read extracts of the book that made her mother famous. 'I believe the younger generation is rebelling with Puritanism,' Jong told Stern.
Jong, in contrast, rebelled early in her life against the conventions of the day.
She grew up in a middle class Jewish family in New York, the daughter of a talented but timid mother and a colourful bohemian father.
After studying literature and one broken marriage later, she lived for three years in Germany with her second husband, a Chinese- American psychiatrist.
It was there that she was encouraged by the psychologist Alexander Mitscherlich to begin writing.
At first, Jong was inspired by the American poet Sylvia Plath and attempted to give literary expression to the repressed view of the world shared by women.
By writing Fear of Flying Jong also created an erotic manifesto and a symbol 'for my generation's hunger for female liberation and sexual pleasure,' as she describes it.
In the intervening years Fear of Flying has sold 12 million copies around the world and been translated into 27 languages.
Her style of writing has not changed in the past 30 years and she remains as open and immodest as ever.
But her private life has become more stable: her fourth husband is a lawyer to whom she has been married for over 20 years.
She describes herself as 'a monogamous person, even though that does not mean I never think about sex. During the day I write that sex in wedlock is impossible, while at night I contradict myself.'© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur