Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic

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Manchester University Press, 1992 - Literary Criticism - 460 pages
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In 1846, Edgar Allen Poe wrote that 'the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetic topic in the world'. The conjuction of death, art and femininity forms a rich and disturbing strata of Western culture, explored here in fascinating detail by Elisabeth Bronfen. Her examples range from Carmen to Little Nell, from Wuthering Heights to Vertigo, from Snow White to Frankenstein. The text is richly illustrated throughout with thirty-seven paintings and photographs.

The argument that this book presents is that narrative and visual representations of death can be read as symptoms of our culture and because the feminine body is culturally constructed as the superlative site of "other" and "not me", culture uses art to dream the deaths of beautiful women.
 

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Contents

The lady vanishes
15
From animate body to inanimate text
57
Bodies on display
95
Case study Wife to Mr Rossetti Elizabeth Siddall 182962
168
Strategies of translation mitigation and exchange
179
Stabilising the ambivalence of repetition
253
Risky resemblances
324
Spectral stories
349
Case study Henrys sister Alice James 184892
384
Conclusion Aporias of resistance
393
Bibliography
436
Sources of epigraphs
453
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Page 460 - When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world...

About the author (1992)


Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich

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