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Clan of the Cave Bear

edited March 2011
In conversation with a male friend last night it came up that he had never heard of Clan of the Cave Bear, the opening salvo in Jean Auel's sexy, sexy tale of a plucky early homo sapien named Ayla trotting around the world encountering neanderthals and inventing arrows and hand lotions.

This got me thinking. I feel like a very particular demographic finds this book to be pretty foundational, at least in terms of literary sexual awakenings. To prove or disprove my theory about this demographic, will everyone please take this informal survey?

1. Had you heard of Clan of the Cave Bear before reading this post? The book, NOT the Darryl Hannah movie?

2. If No, stop taking this survey.

3. If yes, when did you hear about it? What age, I mean.

4. What were the circumstances of you discovering Clan of the Cave Bear?

5. Looking back, what are your primary memories of Clan of the Cave Bear?


  • Charlie Sheen!

    - gary
  • I've never heard.
  • 1. Yes.

    2. I passed this test.

    3. Age 20.

    4. Worked at a bookstore. People came in looking for it frequently. We never had more than one copy at a time and it seemed mostly like waves of kids coming in looking for it for a school assignment. Had to order many. Before working there, I had never heard of it.

    5. Borders sux.
  • 1. Yes
    2. NA
    3. I heard about it pretty early on -- maybe in my preteens?
    4. Clan of the Cave Bear was on my parent's bookshelf.
    5. I think I remember my sister (three years older) trying to read it at some point? I remember my mom calling it "racy." I was intrigued, but never enough to pick it up, myself. I still have not read it.
  • this is very helpful so far! KEEP IT COMING

    "racy" would not be the word I would use, FYI. I would probably use a word like "straight up porn"
  • 1. Yes.

    3. Heard about it in high school.

    4. It was required reading in a class I didn't take.

    5. I remember other people talking about reading it. But I didn't.
  • No, never heard of it.
  • 1. Yes

    2. N/A

    3. 14ish, early high school

    4. The school library had it, as did my Mum.

    5. Lots of sex. A really awesome woman who talked to animals and had a lion as a friend.
  • 1. YES!

    3. I got into Clan of the Cave Bear in 4th grade.

    4. Interestingly: my parents were seated next to Jean M. Auel at some kind of fundraiser or dinner party (she's local y'all) and really liked her. It is due to this encounter that they unknowingly bought me Clan of the Cave Bear, my first erotic novel. I read Clan and the sequel, The Valley of the Horses, in quick succession. I didn't like the books at all, but they were of course compelling for all the reasons stated above.

    5. I literally remember only one thing: Auel's description of the clitoris in The Valley of the Horses, which is my first consciousness of that part of the female anatomy.
  • AWESOME. This is so great you guys. Really supporting my theory. Please keep the answers to my survey comin'

    Chuck's is very similar to mine (minus the part about my parents meeting Auel!).
    I read ALL the books in that series, while liking none of them. Just gimme more caveman sex! I was like 13. This is the same period when I discovered Jackie Collins.

    But you guys, I remember SO MANY THINGS.

    - The central character, Ayla, literally invents all the things that turn homo sapien into modern man: she domesticates animals, invents a slingshot, invents that thing that lets you throw a spear farther, invents NEEDLE AND THREAD, invents HAND LOTION, invents BIRTH CONTROL (also obviously FIGURES OUT WHERE BABIES COME FROM while everyone else still thinks a goddess plants a seed in you or whatever), and probably other stuff I'm forgetting (the blowjob?).

    - She is RAPED by a NEANDERTHAL and gives birth to a hated half-caste baby with a fucked-up face

    - At one point she does mushrooms and accidentally witnesses a sacred ritual that women aren't supposed to see, which loses her the friendship of her father-figure, the Clan's shaman

    - She is a medical doctor who cures everything with tea and her own urine

    - She has sex in a natural hot spring

    - The series is really focused on this thing all the Clans do which is where a girl starts menstruating and then there's a big party at the climax of which the girl goes into a tent and gets fucked by a guy who's been elected by the Clan elders to do the honors, and the fucking is watched over by the elders to make sure he "brings her pleasure"

    - I think Ayla also invents soap at one point

    - There is a scene where she goes to a big clan gathering of her newly-discovered species and then a gigantic cave lion comes in and everyone's screaming but she recognizes the lion as being the lion she raised back in her cave from Valley of Horses, so she walks up to him and gets on his back and rides away and everyone is like "HOLY SHIT" and then she becomes a really major figure for the clans and this stresses her out because she doesn't want them to find out she was raised by neanderthals because they'll shun her.

    - one of the ways she reveals her different background is by her extreme deference to men (kneeling in front of them with her head bowed waiting for them to tap her on the shoulder before she looks up, as the neanderthals do). This baffles homo sapien man, for he is an equal-minded type of dude who loves for the ladies to do their own thing and take down woolly mammoths if they feel like it (also blowjobs)

    - at one point they ride horses over a glacier? And Ayla invents horse booties for the horse's hooves so they don't get too cold? I think she also invents the map and astral navigation
  • So this is a totally different thing than Island of the Dolphin?
  • Island of the BLUE DolphinS? This is the one I know

    I of the BD is much more modern. Like 10,000 years more modern. Also has WAY fewer blowjobs. Also has dolphins.

    I'm sure if Ayla encountered a dolphin though she would have figured out how to tame it

    3. SO early. Maybe 9 or 10 when I read the first one? I remember Mom said I had to be 12 or 14 to read the sequel, because of all the crazy sex in there.

    After the first one I would just skim the porny parts because they got boring and repetitive and I wanted to read about her adventures as the smartest most bad-assed lady that ever bridged neanderthals and sapiens.

    4. Mom got it for me from the library, because a) I had probably already read all the books on my seasonal reading list and b) I wanted to be "be an indian" when I grew up, mistakenly thought this was an actual career choice.

    5. Ayla invents EVERYTHING! I think maybe it was shampoo instead of soap? But her inventing needles (SOOOOO much better than awls you guys) really sticks out. Also her friendship with the lion. And as a tween/teen I actually WISHED that the COTCB system still existed where some non asshole hot dude would get picked out for you to bust your cherry because god SO MUCH PRESSURE RELATED TO VIRGINITY AND GODDESS/WHORE DICHOTOMY stuff in middle school/high school. Doesn't she also have some badass scar that MARKED HER for her totem?

    I could go on all day.
  • Oh yeah her totem! Remember how her totem is the cave lion and everyone in the neanderthal clan is like "HOLY SHIT, she'll never get a mate now" because cave lion is usually warrior totem, the strongest totem, and no man's totem will now be able to compete with her totem in order to make a baby (?? forget how they think it works) but cave lion chose her and they all have to deal with it!

    Totally agree with you about the deflowering. It was presented as so pleasurable and awesome for everybody. I remember thinking longingly about it too, at that age, honestly.

    there's also a scene where everybody has a huge sacred religious orgy, and Ayla and her dude go off to screw in the hot sauna, and this little girl who got raped by a bunch of bad guys secretly watches them from behind a curtain and the beauty of their lovemaking heals her psychic wounds and now she can fuck a dude again!!?!??
  • 1. Yes.

    3. Around 15.

    4. It was one of the options for Summer reading. It was really big, so I didn't read it.

    5. I just remember that I thought it was supposed to tell about the evolution of man. I thought it was "historical fiction," but it sounds more like straight up fiction.
  • well, it couldn't really be a "novelization of a true story" à la Young Victoria or whatever, if it happened 10,000 years ago. People didn't write down shit that happened to famous people back then.

    I guess it's "historical" in the sense that it takes place in history, i.e. a past age

    the ICE age

    it was so long ago we didn't have cots, we had SLABS
    my best friend walked on all fours, his name was Ug and he wasn't fully evolved
    When I was at summer camp fucking Jesus Christ was my camp counselor
  • Arts and farts and crafts.
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