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How does one go about writing a biography of a man about whom we know virtually nothing? Yes, we have the gospel accounts about the 12th disciple. And we have some evidence from church tradition about the man who betrayed Jesus and handed him over to the Roman authorities. Gubar (Poetry After Auschwitz), Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University, has done a magnificent job of collecting and analyzing the scriptural accounts of Judas's life and lore, combining them with 2,000 years of the church's constant reimagining of the Judas story. Readers will be amazed at how often the disciple is depicted in art, music and literature. And even more surprising will be the role he later played in shaping history, growing "into a revered savior" in the minds of 20th-century Nazi propagandists. Gubar is relentless in her documenting of "changing conceptualizations of a figure with multiple personalities during the trajectory of a convoluted career." The evolution of the Judas myth is an important story, one not to be missed. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gubar (English, Indiana Univ.), whose The Madwoman in the Attic, coauthored with Sandra M. Gilbert, changed the landscape of literary and feminist studies when published in 1979, applies her considerable powers to the embattled figure of the apostle who betrayed Jesus. Gubar's approach sidesteps questions of religious truth to focus on the figure of Judas as a mirror for the ever-shifting cultures that used him as a symbol of everything from evil to love to heroism. She brings her penetrating analysis to the dozens of poets, writers, artists, theologians, mystics, and filmmakers who have expressed our ambivalent fascination with Judas. As Gubar reminds us, Judas, as an unredeemed and guilty Jew, gave strength to ancient and modern anti-Semitism, up to and including the nightmare of the Holocaust, while the storm of excited controversy that erupted first around Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and then the rediscovery of the "lost" Gospel of Judas demonstrates our continuing hunger for new ideas about one of our oldest shared stories. An exhaustive, beautifully written cultural history of our favorite wrongdoer, Gubar's work is an immensely rewarding and crucially important book. Highly recommended. [For a Q&A with Gubar, see p. 88.]