Shows how the figure of Mary has shaped and been shaped by changing social and historical circumstances and why for all their beauty and power,the legends of Mary have condemned real women to perpetual inferiority.
Marina Warner is a prize-winning novelist and cultural historian whose works include From the Beast to the Blonde, Managing Monsters (the 1994 Reith Lectures), Indigo and The Lost Father (shortlisted for the Booker Prize).
crowyhead, August 27, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
Warner's books on culture, sociology, history, and folklore almost always top my list of favorites, and this book is a splendidly erudite history of the concept of the Virgin Mary.
My only real quibble with the book is that Warner clearly has feminist Opinions about how the Church and society as a whole have used Mary to oppress women. This is not a problem; I hold similar Opinions, and would be interested in reading more about Warner's. The real problem is that her incisive cultural criticsm tends to appear in the book in short, jarring bursts that don't flow smoothly with the rest of the text. At times it was almost as though there were really two books she wanted to write -- one straight-up history, one cultural criticism -- and she couldn't quite make up her mind which she was writing. This is not a fatal flaw in the book, by any stretch, but it does call attention to how much Warner's writing style has improved in the decades since this book was first published.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.