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Eve. A Biography

Norris, Pamela

45 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0814758126 / ISBN 13: 9780814758120
Published by NYU Press, NY, 1999
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Valley Books (Amherst, MA, U.S.A.)

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496pp. Numerous b&w and several color illustrations. No remainder mark. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 049571

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Eve. A Biography

Publisher: NYU Press, NY

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition..

About this title


Eve: A Biography is the history of Everywoman. Her brief adventure in the Book of Genesis is where the Western idea of woman began, and three thousand years after Eve offered Adam the forbidden fruit, everyone still knows that losing Paradise was Eve's fault.

Pamela Norris traces the evolution of Eve's bad reputation, drawing on a rich and diverse tradition of storytelling that embraces myth, folk tale and popular romance, and puts the spotlight firmly on women and their sexuality. From Dinah and Delilah, Pandora and Psyche, to the snaky Lamias and Liliths who haunted nineteenth-century painting and literature, centuries of disobedient women have been linked with Eve, the original bad girl, providing ample ammunition for male fears and fantasies. But Eve's story has also been retold by women, who have found ingenious and often subversive ways to free her from her disreputable past.

Stimulating, intriguing and wittily erudite, Eve: A Biography is the entrancing tale of a folk maiden who metamorphoses into a vamp, a mermaid, a bluestocking, a witch, a virgin trapped inside the walls of a fertile garden and finally, perhaps, into a thoroughly modern woman who chews the apple of knowledge with gusto and wouldn't dream of offering Adam a bite.


Eve: A Biography, by Pamela Norris, is a lively, erudite, and accessible story about "history's first bad girl, who carelessly threw away the chance of Paradise." Part I, "The Making of a Bad Reputation," describes Eve's significance in early Jewish and Christian communities. Ancient rabbis considered Eve's primary role to be the "mother of all living" and referred to her sin as an example of what can happen to women who stray from their childbearing duties. Later Christian readers began the tradition of invoking Eve as the exemplar of sexual temptation--"the Devil's gateway" and "the first deserter of the divine law." Citing many such passages of religious history, Norris argues that the story of Eve "was developed to manipulate and control women." Although Norris's theological thinking is not as subtle as it could be, Eve is no facile feminist screed. The second half of the book voices a particularly strong argument. In "Fantasies of Eve," Norris considers Eve's literary incarnations in the works of Milton, Hawthorne, and Ursula K. Le Guin, among others. Moving from Scripture to secular literature, she patiently and brilliantly traces the slow and limited evolution of Eve's story into a defense of "the need to challenge boundaries, to make the imaginative leap, however difficult, unpredictable and even dangerous, into a new phase of existence." --Michael Joseph Gross

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