Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

Zipless is Fearless

FEAR OF FLYING is a feminist classic that is not recommended for the prudish mind. This exploration of feminine identity explicitly describes the misadventures taken by her protagonist, Isadora Wing, to own her brand of liberation and sexuality. The terms and setting for this novel may be dated, but the themes offer plenty of insights that are still relevant to women of this generation.
“Any system was a straitjacket if you insisted on adhering to it so totally and humorlessly.” 

Told in the first person, Isadora Wing narrates her family life, misadventures, and reflections with much wit and honesty that for generations believed as scandalous coming from a woman. She is a published poet raised and bred in a middle-class family from New York. Isadora is probably one of the most anti-heroine you’ll ever encounter. She is compulsive, volatile, susceptible, and acutely irritating at most times.
"They screamed at me, but I couldn't hear. I was reading. I was writing. I was safe."

On a trip to Vienna to attend a psychoanalytic congress with her psychiatrist husband, Isadora meets a reckless analyst who seems to be the embodiment of all her sultry sexual fantasies. He seduced Isadora to leave her husband for an existential journey across Europe, which turned out as a re-evaluation of her outlook and unvoiced desires in life. 
"What was that other voice which kept calling me coward! and egging me on to burn my bridges, to swallow the poison in one gulp instead of drop by drop, to go down into the bottom of my fear and see if I could pull myself up? Was it a voice? Or was it a thump? Something even more primitive than speech. A kind of pounding in my gut which I had nicknamed my "hunger-thump." It was as if my stomach thought of itself as a heart. And no matter how I filled it—with men, with books, with food—it refused to be still. Unfillable—that's what I was. Nymphomania of the brain. Starvation of the heart."

Since Isadora irritates her readers, Erica Jong gained respect as a true feminist writer. While Isadora pursues her desire for the ultimate “zipless fuck”, Jong showed her readers that a woman can feel and do what she wants in any context, even in sex. During Isadora’s plummet to self-abasement, Jong told us that we can also be our own hero if we so choose. It is safe to conclude then that when we lose our fears, we can gain our freedom.
"Freedom is full of fear. But fear isn't the worst thing we face. Paralysis is."

Book details:
Title:  Fear of Flying
Author:  Erica Jong
Publisher:  Open Road
Publication:  October 18, 2011
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:   ★★★


F2F32, moderated by the lovely Marie Ricana,
at Titania Wine Cellar, Makati. 

Photo courtesy of Monique.


  1. Ay, sayang, I'm not in the photo!
    And to think that it was my first time to join you guys.
    Anyway, till next time!

    1. We were so engrossed with the discussion, we didn't thought of taking a picture earlier.
      Next time we will amend that! ♥

  2. I love this book. It didn't change my life but I love it anyway. I like Isadora's candor and musings. But if Isadora were a man, I might have different feelings.

    1. Hahaha, double standards?
      But somehow, I do agree with you. Considering psychological and physical attributes, a man will gain different reactions. :)

  3. LOL @ acutely irritating! But I had fun reading this novel. It's strange how some of the issues faced by women in the 70s are still being experienced by women today. :)

    1. Isadora irritates me to no end every time she compromises with Adrian. She does the yards not to disappoint him and be judged by him. For someone who's suppose to be intelligent and radical, that doesn't add up.
      And that's where Jong got me the best. Because for me to react that way towards her character, she succeeded as far as I am concerned.