Heroines: Demigoddess, Prima Donna, Movie Star

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9780060169954: Heroines: Demigoddess, Prima Donna, Movie Star

An anthology of celebrated heroines from antiquity to the present discusses the historical truth behind the myths and legends and features profiles of Alcestis, Antigone, Moll Flanders, Isolde, Medusa, Liberty, and Thelma and Louise, among others.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A prolific and erudite collector and interpreter of ancient and medieval myths (The Holy Grail, 1992; Guinevere, 1991, etc.) Goodrich (Emeritus/Claremont Colleges) here speaks in the voice of an aging Miss Brodie rather than in that of her customary Athena, offering a series of digressive and opinionated essays on women in legend, literature, and film; on the men who created these works; and on how these various female images are treated in contemporary America. Goodrich begins by discussing ``The Good Woman,'' from Homer through Chaucer and The Great Gatsby's Daisy to Tolstoy, whom Goodrich considers ``the greatest novelist the world has yet given birth to.'' A chapter on ``Demon Lovers'' starts with star-crossed couples, runs through a brief history of Satan, and looks at female Gothic novelists. ``Educating Heroines'' focuses on Rousseau and Flaubert--but only after a brief and confusing section on earth mothers--and a chapter on prostitutes (Moll Flanders, Sister Carrie, Camille) and ``fallen women'' (Electra, Antigone, Carmen, and Laclos of Les Liaisons Dangereuses) includes a statistical table of VD in the military of various nations. The chapter on ``Death Queens'' connects Hecate with Miss Marple, and one called ``Heroines Return to Paganism'' starts with Hardy's Tess, pauses on D.H. Lawrence (a champion of American women whose ashes at Taos are ``well worth the pilgrimage''), and comes to rest on Thelma and Louise. After considering warrior women (apotheosized in St. Joan); goddesses of Justice in Scott, Pushkin, Bront‰, and George Eliot; and various female representations of Liberty, Goodrich philosophizes about the abuse of women--especially pregnant American women, who, she says, are treated like ``slabs of beef''- -and suggests that statues of heroines and movie stars can inspire contemporary women in their quest for liberation--because, historically, ``slaves had never liberated themselves.'' Occasional flowers among the weeds; overall, a misuse of a great intelligence. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This remarkable sourcebook profiles scores of heroines of ancient myth or history and traces their reappearance in new guises in fiction from Tolstoy to D. H. Lawrence, as well as in opera, film and the theater. Some, like Medea and Medusa, priestesses armed with magic, flout their societies' rules and customs. Other die tragically, like Madame Emma Bovary and Greta Garbo's Camille , the latter based on a play by Alexandre Dumas fils, who modeled his prostitute heroine after the Greek courtesan Phryne. Still other heroines take revenge upon men, like the Byzantine Empress Theodora, who was raped and prostituted since childhood. Feminist historian Goodrich ( The Holy Grail ) spotlights a diverse gallery of lovers, warriors, mothers, earth goddesses, witches, Amazons, legendary good women and other models for modern women to ponder as they strive to overcome victimization, self-sacrifice, sexism and conformity.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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