Released earlier this year, The Tragic Life Story of Medea as Mother, Monster, and Muse offers a critical yet empathetic exploration of the famous ancient myth of Medea. Immortalised by early Greek and Roman dramatists, Medea is perhaps most often presented as a lovesick maiden who embarks on a journey of deadly revenge. Her story is much more nuanced, though, argues Jana Rivers Norton – much more complex:
“Medea as a tragic figure, whose sense of isolation and betrayal interferes with her ability to form healthy attachments, reveals the human propensity for violence when the agony of unresolved grief turns to vengeance against those we hold most dear. However, metaphorically, her life story as an emblem for existential crisis serves as a psychological touchstone in the lives of early twentieth-century female authors, who struggled to find their rightful place in the world, to resolve the sorrow of unrequited love and devotion, and to reconcile experiences of societal abandonment and neglect as self-discovery.”
The Tragic Life Story of Medea as Mother, Monster, and Muse delves into the numerous interpretations of Medea from the classical to the contemporary era but focuses predominantly on twentieth century women’s writing, dedicating chapters to H.D., Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louise Bogan and Ellen Glasgow. It also incorporates discussions on Toni Morrison, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Hilda Doolittle. The breadth and quality of the book has prompted Hannah Huber of the University of Illinois at Chicago to deem it “a splendid and vital interdisciplinary addition to the feminist canon.”
Dr Jana Rivers Norton has taught college level English and Psychology courses for over 28 years. She is an author and independent scholar, whose work has appeared in several peer-reviewed journals. Her primary research interests include bridging the fields of narrative psychology and mythos in relation to the study of creativity, trauma, gender and writing. She retired from full-time teaching at Cochise College, USA, in 2018, and now teaches part-time for the College of the Redwoods, in northern California.
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