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While the face of Helen of Troy may have launched a thousand ships, it has inspired equally as many depictions. Maguire (English, Univ. of Oxford; How To Do Things with Shakespeare) is concerned with Helen's "literary afterlife," the different ways she has been portrayed in Western literature, from the eighth century B.C.E. (Homer) to the present (Derek Walcott). She is struck by the paradox that while Helen was the cause of so much action, she is often represented only on the narrative margin. Maguire's approach is thematic rather than chronological, including the ambiguities in Helen's mythical story, her beauty, her abduction, her guilt, her role in the Faust tradition, and her presence in various modern parodies. While largely focusing on a rich array of literary sources-classical, medieval, Renaissance, and modern-she also draws on art and film. Combining wit, learning, and insight, Maguire offers delightful reading both for the specialist and for the serious general reader. Highly recommended.