Erica Jong (born 26 March 1942) is an American author and educator. Born in New York City, Jong graduated from Barnard College in 1963. She is best known for her first novel, Fear of Flying (published in 1973), which created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman's sexual desires.
- I myself hate that old Hemingwayesque paradigm of the writer as prizefighter and I have tried hard to create an alternate one for myself. When Anne Sexton admonished me, "We are all writing God's poem," I took it to mean there should be no competition between writers because we are all involved in a common project, a common prayer. But to Gore's and Norman's generation, particularly those male writers who served in the second world war, the prizefighter paradigm remains.
- I have had the experience of having my sister get up at a meeting at Columbia University, where these scholars from all over the world were anointing Fear of Flying as a classic. And my sister got up and said, "Erica Jong has ruined my life — with her books."
- (February 5, 2015)"PEN DIY: Erica Jong on How to Write YOUR Book". PEN America, YouTube. (quote at 14:05 of 36:38)
- My advice to a young writer: Never give up. Read everything you can read — particularly the writers who move you deeply. Study how they do what they do. Read and read and read ... and write and write and write.
- (August 24, 2016)"Erica Jong Interview: Advice to the young". Louisiana Channel, YouTube.
Fear of Flying (1973)
- Underneath it all, you longed to be annihilated by love...
- Each one an antidote to the one that went before. Each one a reaction, an about-face, a rebound.
- (About Men)
- The zipless fuck is absolutely pure. It is free of ulterior motives. There is no power game. The man is not "taking" and the woman is not "giving." No one is attempting to cuckold a husband or humiliate a wife. No one is trying to prove anything or get anything out of anyone. The zipless fuck is the purest thing there is. And it is rarer than the unicorn. And I have never had one.
- Pregnancy seemed like a tremendous abdication of control. Something growing inside you which would eventually usurp your life.
- I'm just trying to lead my own fucking life if I can manage to find it in all this confusion.
- Dancing is like fucking... it doesn't matter how you look - just concentrate on how you feel.
- I want you. I want you. I want you. Anything to avoid saying: I love you.
- The ultimate sexist put-down: the prick which lies down on the job.
- Silence is the bluntest of blunt instruments.
- I'm very dependant. I fall apart regularly.
- Sheer bitchiness can be a sort of style.
- It's only when you're forbidden to talk about the future that you suddenly realize how much the future normally occupies the present.
- Exceptional people are often called crazy by the ordinary world.
- Everyone's a little crazy when you get inside their head... it's only a matter of degree.
How to Save Your Own Life (1977)
- I convinced myself that sadness and compromise were the ways of the world...
- Having a baby with him meant marrying that face forever.
- All people believe their suffering is greater than others.
- Humor is a survival tool.
- How could one create life with someone who represented death?
- Inevitably, I drank too much, talked too much, smiled too hard, swallowed back too much bile.
- My body was flesh, which was only one step removed from shit, from clay, from dust.
- Keeping a journal implies hope.
- The worst thing about jealousy is how low it makes you reach.
- And what if I don't want forgiveness?
- Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't...
- Friends love misery... our misery is what endears us to our friends.
- It takes a spasm of love to write a poem.
- They all cheat sooner or later. You might as well have one who isn't a bore the rest of the time.
- ...jealousy makes the prick grow harder. And the cunt wetter.
- Love is love, but marriage is an investment.
- Unhappiness is our element. We come to believe we can't function without it.
- Without sex it would be so easy to choose appropriate people to live with. Sex was the joker in an otherwise rational deck.
- Loving someone is a loss of freedom -- but one doesn't think of it as loss because one gains so much else.
- There is a rhythm to the ending...
- Many people today believe that cynicism requires courage. Actually, cynicism is the height of cowardice. It is innocence and open-heartedness that requires the true courage -- however often we are hurt as a result of it.
- If you apologize for something that isn't your fault in the first place, you, in effect, confirm their belief that it is your fault.
- Is perception equivalent to existence?
- Photographs... are the most curious indicators of reality.
- ...the ocean kept falling into itself, gathering itself up, and falling into itself again.
- The future is merely a shadow which blocks out the joys of the present and emphasizes the miseries of the past.
- What was the point of spending your life with someone you were always looking for ways to deceive?
- I only know that in our choice of friends and lovers and teachers who will change our lives, we are guided by forces which have nothing to do with the rationalizations we give.
- Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.
Becoming Light: Poems New and Selected (1991)
- Pain is not love. Love flowers; love gives without taking; love is serene and calm.
- Driving me away is easier than saying goodbye...
- Betrayal does that -- betrays the betrayer.
- It is our old love I love.
- I look forward and see myself look back.
- In loving life you love what can't survive...
- Why does life need evidence of life?
- I am not sure if love is a salve or just a deeper kind of wound.
- ...I am sure that when we love we are better than ourselves and when we hate, worse.
- The best slave does not need to be beaten. She beats herself.
- Birth is the start of loneliness and loneliness the start of poetry...
- Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along.
- Hate generalizes; love is particular.
- Because I loved myself, I was loved.
- ...if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.
- Never follow a dog act. You know you're on the skids when you play yourself in the movie version of your life.
- Erica Jong's father (a musician, songwriter and later business man), his two pieces of advice for her. Given in the Times Literary Supplement, 7 October 1994, page 44.
Quotes about Erica Jong
- ... Jong presented millions of women readers with the possibility of — the great joys of — agency in place of soporific and joyless passivity in life and, of course, sex.
- Heidi Pitlor, (September 11, 2015)"Review of Fear of Dying by Erica Jong". The New York Times.