Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism

Paperback | March 10, 2016

byMarina Warner

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The fame of Joan of Arc began in her lifetime and, though it has dipped a little now and then, she has never vanished from view. Her image acts as a seismograph for the shifts and settlings of personal and political ideals: Joan of Arc is the heroine every movement has wanted as theirfigurehead. In France, anti-semitic, xenophobic, extreme right parties have claimed her since the Action Francaise in the 19th century. By contrast, Socialists, feminists, and liberal Catholics rallied to her as the champion of the dispossessed and the wrongly accused. Joan of Arc has also played a crucial role in changing visions of female heroism. She has proved an inexhaustible source of inspiration for writers, playwrights, film-makers, performers, and composers. In a single, brief life, several of the essential mythopoiec characteristics that throughouthistory have defined the charismatic leader and saint are powerfully and intensely condensed. Even while Joan of Arc was still alive, but far more so after her death, the heroic part of her story sparked narratives of all kinds, in pictures, ballads, plays, and also satires. This was only heightenedin 1841-9 by the publication of the Inquisition trial which had examined Joan for witchcraft and heresy. The transcript of the interrogations gives us the voice of this young woman across the centuries with almost unbearable immediacy; her spirit leaps from the page, uncompromising in its frankness,good sense, courage, and often breathtaking in its simple effectiveness. Joan of Arc is one of the most fully and vividly present personalities in history, about whom a great more is known, in her own words and at first hand, than is, for example, about Shakespeare. However, this has not stopped the flow of fictions and fantasies about her. Marina Warner analyses thesymbolism of the Maid in her own time and in her rich afterlife in popular culture. The cultural expressions are part of an ongoing historical struggle to own the symbol - you could say, the brand. In a new preface to her study, Marina Warner takes stock of the continuing contention, in politics andculture, for this powerful symbol of virtue. Joan of Arc's multiple resurrections and transformations show how vigorous the need for figures like her remains, and how crucial it is to meet that need with thoughtfulness. She argues that abandoning the search to identify heroes and define them, out ofa kind of high-minded distaste for propaganda, lets dangerous political factions manipulate them to their own ends. When Marine Le Pen calls on Joan of Arc's name, she needs to be confronted about her bad faith and her abuse of history.

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The fame of Joan of Arc began in her lifetime and, though it has dipped a little now and then, she has never vanished from view. Her image acts as a seismograph for the shifts and settlings of personal and political ideals: Joan of Arc is the heroine every movement has wanted as theirfigurehead. In France, anti-semitic, xenophobic, ex...

Marina Warner's award-winning studies of mythology and fairy tales include Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (l985) and No Go the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling and Making Mock (1998). Her Clarendon Lectures Fantastic Metamorphoses; Other Worlds were published in 2002; her essays on literature and culture were collect...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:March 10, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198718799

ISBN - 13:9780198718796

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Table of Contents

Preface to the new editionProloguePart One: The Life and Death of Jeanne la Pucelle1. Maid of France2. A Divided Realm3. The King and his Crown4. Prophet5. Harlot of the Armagnacs6. Heretic7. Ideal Androgyne8. KnightPart Two: The Afterlife of Joan of Arc9. The Vindication10. Amazon11. Personification of Virtue12. Child of Nature13. Saint or Patriot?Bibliographical Notes