Biography of Erica Jong
Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.
A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A. in 18th century English Literature from Columbia University (1965), Jong is best known for her first novel, Fear of Flying (1973), which created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman's sexual desires. Although it contains many sexual elements, the book is mainly the account of a young, hypersensitive woman, in her late twenties, trying to find who she is and where she is going. It contains many psychological, humorous, descriptive elements, and rich cultural and literary references. The book tries to answer the many conflicts arising in women in today's world, of womanhood, femininity, love, one's quest for freedom and purpose.
Jong was born and grew up in New York City. She is the middle daughter of Seymour Mann (né Nathan Weisman, died 2004), a drummer turned businessman of Polish Jewish ancestry who owned a gifts and home accessories company known as "one of the world's most acclaimed makers of collectible porcelain dolls". Born in England of a Russian immigrant family, her mother, Eda Mirsky (born 1911), was a painter and textile designer who also designed dolls for her husband's company. Jong has an elder sister, Suzanna, who married Lebanese businessman Arthur Daou, and a younger sister, Claudia, a social worker who married Gideon S. Oberweger (the chief executive officer of Seymour Mann Inc. until his death in 2006). Among her nephews is Peter Daou, who writes "The Daou Report" for salon.com and was one-half of the dance-music group The Daou.
Jong has been married four times. Her first two marriages, to college sweetheart Michael Werthman and to Allan Jong, a Chinese American psychiatrist, share many similarities to those of the narrator described in Fear of Flying. Her third husband was Jonathan Fast, a novelist and social work educator, and son of novelist Howard Fast (this marriage was described in How to Save Your Own Life and Parachutes and Kisses). She has a daughter from her third marriage, Molly Jong-Fast. Jong is now married to Kenneth David Burrows , a New York litigation attorney. In the late 1990s Jong wrote an article about her current marriage in the magazine Talk.
Jong lived for three years, 1966–69, in Heidelberg, Germany, with her second husband, while he was stationed at an army base there. She was a frequent visitor to Venice, and wrote about that city in her novel, Shylock's Daughter. Jong is mentioned in the Bob Dylan song "Highlands."
In 2007, her literary archive was acquired by Columbia University in New York City.
Poetry Magazine's Bess Hokin Prize (1971)
Sigmund Freud Award For Literature (1975)
United Nations Award For Excellence In Literature (1998)
Deauville Award For Literary Excellence In France
Erica Jong's Works:
Fear of Flying (novel) (1973)
How to Save Your Own Life (1977)
Fanny, Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones (1980) (a retelling of Fanny Hill)
Megan's Book of Divorce: a kid's book for adults; as told to Erica Jong; illustrated by Freya Tanz. New York: New American Library (1984)
Megan's Two Houses: a story of adjustment; illustrated by Freya Tanz (1984; West Hollywood, CA: Dove Kids, 1996)
Parachutes & Kisses. New York: New American Library (1984) (UK ed. as Parachutes and Kisses: London: Granada, 1984.)
Shylock's Daughter (1987): formerly titled Serenissima
Any Woman's Blues (1990)
Inventing Memory (1997)
Sappho's Leap (2003)
Witches; illustrated by Joseph A. Smith. New York: Harry A. Abrams (1981)
The Devil at Large: Erica Jong on Henry Miller (1993)
Fear of Fifty: a midlife memoir (1994)
What Do Women Want? bread roses sex power (1998)
Seducing the Demon: writing for my life (2006)
Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave essay, "My Dirty Secret" (2007)
It Was Eight Years Ago Today (But It Seems Like Eighty) (2008)
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Erica Jong Poems
After The Earthquake
After the first astounding rush, after the weeks at the lake, the crystal, the clouds, the water lapping the rocks, the snow breaking under our boots like skin,
I want to understand the steep thing that climbs ladders in your throat. I can't make sense of you. Everywhere I look you're there--
Letter To My Lover After Seven Years
You gave me the child that seamed my belly & stitched up my life.
Beast, Book, Body
I was sick of being a woman, sick of the pain, the irrelevant detail of sex, my own concavity
The lover in these poems is me; the doctor, Love.
For Naomi Lazard Sometimes I can't wait until I look like Nadezhda Mandelstam. -- Naomi Lazard
On the first night of the full moon, the primeval sack of ocean broke,
I sit at home at my desk alone as I used to do on many sunday afternoons
Flying At Forty
You call me courageous, I who grew up gnawing on books,
The Poem Cat
Sometimes the poem doesn't want to come; it hides from the poet like a playful cat
The decorum of fire... -- Pablo Neruda We learned the decorum of fire,
Smoke, it is all smoke in the throat of eternity. . . . For centuries, the air was full of witches Whistling up chimneys
Now, moving in, cartons on the floor, the radio playing to bare walls, picture hooks left stranded in the unsoiled squares where paintings were,
Dear Colette, I want to write to you about being a woman for that is what you write to me.
The Artist As An Old Man
If you ask him he will talk for hours--
how at fourteen he hammered signs, fingers
raw with cold, and later painted bowers
in ladies' boudoirs; how he played checkers
for two weeks in jail, and lived on dark bread;
how he fled the border to a country
which disappeared wars ago; unfriended
crossed a continent while this century
began. He seldom speaks of painting now.