Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form / Edition 1

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Marina Warner explores the tradition of personifying liberty, justice, wisdom, charity, and other ideals and desiderata in the female form, and examines the tension between women's historic and symbolic roles. Drawing on the evidence of public art, especially sculpture, and painting, poetry, and classical mythology, she ranges over the allegorical presence of the woman in the Western tradition with a sharply observant eye and a piquant and engaging style.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Examining an impressive scope of materialart (Donatello, Vermeer, Judy Chicago), Greek mythology, the Bible, literature, linguistics and mass mediaWarner (Alone of All Her Sex) traces the different meanings which have been ascribed to the female form throughout the ages. ``Liberty is not represented by a woman because women were and are free''; allegory by definition requires a gap (and a resemblance) between the ideal and the real. But there is a give-and-take of meaning between the female fantasy figuresAthena, Wisdom, Temperance, et al.and actual women. Warner suggests that some women (the armed maidens of Justice and Chastity, etc.) may take on male personas (the brandished weapons) to best shield themselves from the masculine code. Pandora, the first woman of classical myth, and Eve, the mother in the Judeo-Christian story, bear the burden of men's dreams: made and named by others, agents of calamity through the desire they inspire but do not experience themselves. Unlike men, women lose their individuality as they become universal symbols, and the only way to rid the female form of contaminated meanings is ``to respect the individual inside the symbol''to look through the Statue of Liberty's eyes to see that she can represent freedom only if we were to forget the female condition. The difficulty with this sometimes brilliant study is that, like the history it examines, it never comes to rest with an unchanging definition. Illustrated. November 25
Library Journal
Warner investigates a recurrent motif in allegory, ``the female form as an expression of desiderata and virtues,'' looking at literary and visual forms from classical times to the present. She assumes a working knowledge of classical writings, but her presentation is clearly thought out, and not burdened down with jargon, esoterica, or non-sequiturs. At the center of Warner's argument is an attempt to understand the paradox of using the form of a woman to represent ideas that are not considered womanly (Justice is represented as a woman, but not because women are thought to be just). She raises issues that are important to the continued development of a scholarly discipline of women's studies, as well as breaking new ground in the literary interpretation of traditional myths and images. Highly recommended. Patricia Scott, Comparative Arts Dept., Ohio Univ., Chillicothe
Wendy Smith
Feminist analysis has shown how female images in art and advertising reveal society's attitudes, conscious and unconscious, towards women. Warner's Monuments and Maidens provides a much needed historical context for today's debates.
Village Voice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520227330
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST U.S. P
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Among Marina Warner's books are From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers (1995), Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1983), and Joan of Arc (California, 1999).

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Pt. 1 The Female Presence Today
1 The Monument (New York) 3
2 The Street (Paris) 18
3 The Front Page (London) 38
Pt. 2 The Figure in Myth
4 Engendered Images 63
5 The Bed of Odysseus 88
6 The Aegis of Athena 104
7 The Goddess of Success 127
8 The Sword of Justice 146
9 Lady Wisdom 177
Pt. 3 The Body in Allegory
10 The Making of Pandora 213
11 The Sieve of Tuccia 241
12 The Slipped Chiton 267
13 Nuda Veritas 294
Epilogue: The Eyes of Tiresias 329
Abbreviations 335
Notes 337
Bibliography and References 377
Index 401
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