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Joan of Arc by Mary Gordon
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Joan of Arc

by Mary Gordon

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It's always good to read about Joan of Arc who remains one of the most famous women to ever live. The Virgin Mary will always be the most famous but Joan the Maid of Orleans was a myth while she lived. This book sadly portrays her as a series of accidents which people mistook for military valor against the English. This book makes her a feminist in the modern sense and one of the first transvestites who, in the mode of modern critical theory, subverted the church's own self understanding as well as the whole feudal patriarchal system. The book is not edifying nor spiritual. If you want that, you should read Joan of Arc by Hilaire Belloc which is beautiful and accurate. Gordon's book is well written and I am always glad to be in possession of good reading for a book's full length but Gordon's argument is that Joan was a fraud but a lucky fraud in that no one could prove her right or wrong.
  sacredheart25 | Jul 22, 2015 |
Not a definitive work on the “Maid of Orleans”, nor was it meant to be, Penguin Lives’ “Joan of Arc” by Mary Gordon does a superb job of deconstructing much of the intentional and unintentional iconography involved in studying Joan and her lasting effects on France and its providence. Ms. Gordon portrays her as a simple “cowgirl” but one who intrinsically understood the power of images and their uses, so much so that she was able to play the part of “chef de guerre” at a time when women, especially girls, played no such role. However, what intrigued me the most in this mini-bio was Ms. Gordon’s rendering of Joan as a quixotic figure well over a century before Cervantes’ character. Unfortunately, Ms. Gordon ends her excellent treatise with a fair share of feminist vitriol, which I found unneeded and unnecessary. ( )
  BruderBane | Jul 27, 2010 |
The great novelist, Mary Gordon, has a go at non-fiction in this short (179 p.) but beautifully written account of the myths and realities in the life of the "Maid of Orleans." Gordon believes our understanding of Joan "must always be enclosed in the envelope of her age and gender." Joan of Arc was executed for heresy at the age of 19 after having led French soldiers in battle during the Hundred Years War against England. ( )
  CastiLib | Dec 9, 2008 |
I would have given the book a higher rating if it hadn't been for the last chapter. I had no desire to read about all the things ever created using Joan of Arc as the protagonist. Boring. Gordon went a long way in establishing the context surrounding Joan. How Joan fit into society and how that society was created the myth, legend and icon that is Joan of Arc. It very intriguing how an uneducated, religious peasant girl is able to lead the army of France into battle to allow the dauphin Charles to be crowned King. Establishing her place in the larger theatre that was 16th century French politics, religion and royalty is fascinating. Nowhere else could it have happened and had Joan not perished the way she did, she would not be the legend and icon she is. The books is not long, and it can be choppy in places, but it is a different kind of biography. Not one of names, dates and places but of the context and historical significance of an individual. ( )
  brainella | Sep 1, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670885371, Hardcover)

With the passion and grace that mark her bestselling novels of women and faith, Mary Gordon contemplates one of history's earliest and most powerful female martyrs

Eternally fascinating, an enigma no less in our time than in her own, Joan of Arc has haunted Gordon's consciousness since childhood. Who was this girl who came from nowhere, supported an equivocal cause, triumphed for a scant few months, failed as a soldier, vacillated about her vision, died in agony, was refused canonization for five hundred years, yet, ponders Gordon, "stands alone in our imagination for the single-minded triumph of the she--and it must be a she--who feared nothing, knew herself right, and chosen of the Lord?"

Joan of Arc penetrates the popular cultural icon to examine the vulnerability of a woman forced by her mission into the public world of men, from her first march at the head of the French soldiery at the age of seventeen to her capture by the British in 1430, from her vilification as a witch to the formidable legacy of her struggle. Only Gordon--a storyteller the San Francisco Chronicle calls "scintillating"--could breathe life into a figure so ethereal, so puzzling, so human.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:41 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Chronicles the life of Joan of Arc, focusing on how the young girl overcame great odds to become a heroine, martyr, and saint.

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