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Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary Paperback – March 12, 1983
The exciting new release from Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. Learn more
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"A work of remarkably elegant and eloquent scholarship." - Observer
"Astonishing and enlightening.... packed with scholarship, imagery, vivid selection, and wry contrastive comment." - Margaret Mead
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Top Customer Reviews
In itself, this book is a landmark work of European history. Marina's treatment of nearly a millennium of devotions, historical implications, poetry, art, and culture is exceedingly extensive and cohesive.
I withheld the fifth star because the underlying thesis, that the devotions to Mary have condemned women to inferior status, distorts the essence of the devotions chronicled. Even in the 'age of faith,' the connections between devotion, which admits to God's ways being unknowable, and the physical manifestations (icons, relics and the like) which make them come alive for the believer, hardly would have been veritable manuals of 'how to use Mary's holiness to underline female inferiority.' In fact, were this book a historical work without the feminist angle, it would have been far better.
Published in 1976 by Marina Warner, Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary is both a lasting work of scholarship and an artifact of its own time—second wave feminism. As such, it focuses less on the legal restrictions that have been put on women through the centuries than it does on the influence that culture has upon our view of women. The subject of Warner’s book holds deeply personal relevance to her own experience, so at times the book might seem almost like a personal rant. However, it is an experience shared by many women—especially those who grow up Catholic—and the scholarship that Warner puts into the writing of her book should not be understated. It is a rare feat for an author to write about such a personal subject with research of such depth, and Warner does just that. Alone of All Her Sex stays admirably focused on its topic throughout, not veering too much into other feminist agendas.
Warner’s book is structured in five major parts. Each part is about a certain identity that Mary represents: Mary as the Virgin, Queen, Bride, Mother, and Intercessor. Warner tells us, “I have not undertaken a history of the cult of the Virgin as such, but in chronological order I have taken aspects of her composite personality at their zenith and then worked backwards and forwards in time showing the ideas that contributed to their genesis and growth and lingered on in the tiredness of old age” (xxiii).Read more ›
However, not always Marian dogmas are used in such a way. I think that this book makes an extraordinary point against the devotions to the Virgin Mary, but avoids the fact that also such devotions have been used to free women.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
exceptional source of information unavailable in any other collectionPublished 2 months ago by Marian Steinberg
Tedious and tendentious misunderstanding of the Virgin Mother. IMHO this is not good theology. Not recommended.Published on July 4, 2014 by Neil Kane
This book is an exciting resource for anyone interested in the intersection of gender and religion. You should probably read it.Published on December 11, 2013 by lcl
How very sad that this Woman is so mislead. Mary our mother in Heaven is a loving, merciful, caring mother. Read morePublished on April 24, 2013 by marisa wilks
Like an appealing art gallery guide, Warner conducts a grand tour of the legends, literature, and imagery concerning Mother Mary. Read morePublished on February 18, 2008 by Brian Griffith
Warner's book is far more than a mere history of the Virgin Mary. It is not intended for devout Catholics who only wish to hear praise heaped on the mother of God. Read morePublished on February 21, 2005 by virgin curiosity