VENUS IN SACKCLOTH: The Magdalen's Origins and Metamorphoses

Malvern, Marjorie M.

ISBN 10: 0809307073 / ISBN 13: 9780809307074
Published by Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, (1975.) dj, 1975
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Hardcover first edition - First printing. A scholarly and perceptive study of the changing attitudes toward Mary Magdalen during the past two thousand years. John Lash in his article on Gnostic beliefs states "No one lately seems to have gotten her tawdry image as right as Marjorie M. Malvern, whose Venus in Sackcloth was published in 1975, almost thirty years before the present furor over Magdalene [that is, due to Brown's DaVinci Code] . Malvern shows that 'the connection of the Magdalen with a goddess of loveÉ is unbroken and unmistakable' in European art and literature from classical times. Illustrated with many reproductions of art works from medieval times on. Extensive notes, selected bibliography, index. Very warmly and personally INSCRIBED by the author on the front pastedown "For --- May you remember the words of Max Spielman 'Ontogeny recapitulates cosmogeny - what is it but to say, Proctoscopy repeats hagiography?' as you view 'Venus in Sackcloth' - with love and best wishes for joy." 219 pp. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. Uncommon, and especially so inscribed by the author. Bookseller Inventory # 45885

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Bibliographic Details

Title: VENUS IN SACKCLOTH: The Magdalen's Origins ...

Publisher: Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, (1975.) dj

Publication Date: 1975

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Prostitute, saint, penitent, woman taken in adultery, the Magdalenâ a Venus in sackclothâ â has evolved through two thou­sand years of iconography and literature little understood, this original and pro­vocative study shows.

The complex intermingling of the Mag­dalen myth in religion and culture pro­vides a fascinating chapter in the history of ideas. This important new book there­fore not only fills a gap in religious and humanistic studies but also deepens our understanding of how the ideas implanted in the Magdalen figure were sustained over the yearsâ from her origins in Scrip­ture and Apocrypha to rock opera in our time.

Among Malvernâ s perceptive findings is evidence that it is primarily the Mary Magdalene of the Gospel of John who evokes the fictionalization and early metamorphoses of the Magdalen figure. In Gnostic writings, used as a vessel embody­ing ambivalent attitudes toward life, sex, and women, the Magdalen metamor­phosed into the â pure spiritual Marihamâ in the Pistis Sophiaâ from Venus to Mary.

And in tracing the further transforma­tion of, and complex attitudes toward, the Magdalen from the Crusades to the twen­tieth century Ms. Malvern adds signifi­cantly to our understanding of the con­sequent shaping and transmission of the figure. The enigmatic Magdalen, accord­ing to the evidence presented, has carried, sometimes covertly, the old radically dualistic religious and secular concepts into modern times.

About the Author:

Marjorie M. Malvern is an Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Florida, Gainesville. She received her Ph.D. degree from Michigan State University.

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