Monday, 3 October 2016

The Myth of the Medusa in Literature

“You unbend your forehead at last,” said Mr. Rivers.  “I thought Medusa had looked at you, and that you were turning to stone.  Perhaps now you will ask how much you are worth?”
“How much am I worth?”
“Oh, a trifle!  Nothing of course to speak of—twenty thousand pounds, I think they say—but what is that?”
“Twenty thousand pounds?”
Here was a new stunner—I had been calculating on four or five thousand.  This news actually took my breath for a moment: Mr. St. John, whom I had never heard laugh before, laughed now.

-          From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Medusa, one of the three Gorgons, is celebrated for her personal charms and the beauty of her locks. Neptune being enamoured of her, went ahead and received favours from her in the temple of Minerva, who was angered by this desecration of the sanctity of the temple,  and hence she changed the beautiful locks of Medusa to serpents. You may read more on the myth at your leisure.

Now, Medusa, in myth can thus be seen as a representation of the Other by virtue of her ‘antagonizing’ difference.

This function of Medusa as a representation of the Other, has been bandied about extensively by a host of 19th & 20th century writers too. Let’s have a look at some of the important ones here!

The Raft of the Medusa (1818) by Théodore Géricault, which subsequently became an icon of French Romanticism.
The Head of the Medusa (1963), in Greek novelist Pandelis Prevelakis’s trilogy,
 “The Laugh of the Medusa” (1975) by Hélène Cixous
Look, Medusa! (2014) by Suniti Namjoshi
Eve Meets Medusa (1993), by Michelene Wandor
“Sphinx and Medusa” by Clark Ashton Smith
Medusa's Mirrors: Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the Metamorphosis of the Female Self (1998), by Julia Walker
Medusa (1970), by Ann Stanford
“Medusa” (1980), by Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail (1983) the fourth book in the Four Lords of the Diamond series by Jack L. Chalker.
Medusa's Child (1997), by John J. Nance
The Medusa Encounter (2001) by Paul Preuss
“Medusa and the Female Gaze” (1990), Susan R. Bowers
Mesmerism, Medusa, and the Muse: The Romantic Discourse of Spontaneous Creativity (2012), by Anne DeLong
Medusa: Solving the Mystery of the Gorgon (2007), by Stephen R. Wilk
The Medusa Effect: Representations and Epistemology in Victorian Aesthetics (2009), by Thomas Albrecht

[Compilation by this blogger]

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