Having led an unexpectedly irreligious life for a Pope, my current thesis chapter on nineteenth-century Catholicism is involving a great deal of background reading. Thank you, therefore, to OUP for a very timely review copy of Marina Warner’s Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary. This book is an ambitious study of the changing symbolism of the Mother of God, seen through the shifting social perspectives of the last millennium, and it caused controversy when it was first published in 1976. The preface to this new edition examines the response from some of its detractors, and Warner also retracts her original conclusion that the cult of the Virgin would be soon consigned to history. Although the debate is complex, Warner’s writing is lucid and engaging, and her book is a really good read. For heathens like me who rely on Father Ted for ecclesiastical knowledge, Alone of All Her Sex is a thought-provoking and comprehensive introduction to this influential figure.
I’ve also received a copy of Warner’s Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism which looks to be every bit as good.