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Ovid's Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman - Bloomsbury Studies in Classical Reception (Paperback)
  • Ovid's Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman - Bloomsbury Studies in Classical Reception (Paperback)

Ovid's Myth of Pygmalion on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman - Bloomsbury Studies in Classical Reception (Paperback)

Paperback 248 Pages / Published: 28/03/2013
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Why has the myth of Pygmalion and his ivory statue proved so inspirational for writers, artists, philosophers, scientists, and directors and creators of films and television series? The 'authorised' version of the story appears in the epic poem of transformations, Metamorphoses, by the first-century CE Latin poet Ovid; in which the bard Orpheus narrates the legend of the sculptor king of Cyprus whose beautiful carved woman was brought to life by the goddess Venus. Focusing on screen storylines with a Pygmalion subtext, from silent cinema to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lars and the Real Girl, this book looks at why and how the made-over or manufactured woman has survived through the centuries and what we can learn about this problematic model of 'perfection' from the perspective of the past and the present. Given the myriad representations of Ovid's myth, can we really make a modern text a tool of interpretation for an ancient poem? This book answers with a resounding 'yes' and explains why it is so important to give antiquity back its future.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781472504951
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 354 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 13 mm

Paula James has produced a brilliant and engaging study of how and why the modern media of film and television continue to refashion ancient mythological narratives for contemporary audiences, in this case, Ovid's story of Pygmalion and his ivory statue come to life. In a series of provocative and detailed chapters, James expertly examines an array of cinematic and televisual texts - from classic films like Vertigo (1958) to more recent screen productions such as Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) - that correspond on both the narrative and figurative levels to Ovid's myth of the "made-over woman." James deftly unravels the myth's infinite and powerful layers as she explores the popular genre of "make-over films," while delving into the question of our eternal fascination with the theme of artfully - or artificially - created life and the problems of "perfection" inherent in the eyes of the beholder. With the analytical skills of a classicist and the ardor of a film fan, James succeeds in assessing both the impact of the classical myth on modern viewers, as well as how each onscreen reception in its current cultural context sheds further interpretive light on the ancient story. Monica S. Cyrino, University of New Mexico, USA
The story of Elisa Doolittle, the working class flower girl transformed into the image of a Duchess by Professor Higgins, was made famous by the 1964 musical My Fair Lady. In her excellent book, Paula James positions this story within a more complex and long standing literary and cinematic tradition. Beginning with Ovid's epic poetry and his version of the Pygmalion myth, James explores how the narrative trope of the make-over has been repeatedly reworked and re-imagined on screen. Bringing together an exciting range of literary, cinematic, and televisual texts as diverse as Pygmalion, Vertigo, Pretty Woman, Miss Congeniality and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James offers an insightful discussion of the perennial cultural need to fashion and re-fashion women into a fantasy ideal. Scholarly and engaging, this book will make you look at these texts, whether classical or pop culture, like never before. Stacey Abbot, Reader in Film and Television Studies, Roehampton University, London, UK
Drawing on an impressive range of scholarship, James generously acknowledges the work of others as well as forming her own conclusions surrounding the ultimate inadequacies of the created feminine ideal.. The book explores the ongoing fascination with Ovid's Pygmalion story, explains why it still has powerful resonances today and, furthermore, suggests how its new reworkings can illuminate readings of Ovid's Metamorphoses itself. -- Rosemary Barrow * Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
The fortunes of the Pygmalion story in literature and the fine arts have been well canvassed over the years; James provides the most extensive coverage so far for film and television. -- Gordon Braden University of Virginia * Translation and Literature *

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