Catalogue


The myth of Medea and the murder of children /
Lillian Corti.
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998.
description
xxi, 242 p.
ISBN
0313305366 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998.
isbn
0313305366 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
2471210
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [221]-234) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Lillian Corti is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-04:
In the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, Jason's wife, Medea, kills her children as an act of revenge against the unfaithfulness of her husband. Corti (Univ. of Alaska) argues in this provocative book that though Euripides' Medea is the most famous dramatization of child-murder, by no means is infanticide restricted to the classical Greeks. Drawing from the fields of medicine, psychology, economics, and cultural studies, as well as comparative literature, this invigorating and original book asks why this common act of violence has been subjugated for so long. The diagnosis of "battered child syndrome" did not appear in medical journals until 1962. Corti posits that a collective cultural denial prior to the 20th century allowed the practice to continue until clinical recognition forced it into public awareness. She investigates many competing theories, including Freudian (the child is a sexual rival for one parent's attention) and Malthusian (the child presents increased competition for scarce resources). Her research spans the centuries and encompasses literature, film, drama, performance history, fiction, and even the television situation comedy Northern Exposure. No theory completely explains why a mother would kill her children, as in Toni Morrison's Beloved, but continued infanticide gives evidence of a dark side of human consciousness. Highly recommended for all academic collections. J. L. Thorndike; Belmont University
Reviews
Review Quotes
'œ[An] invigorating and original book....Highly recommended for all academic collections.'' Choice
"[An] invigorating and original book....Highly recommended for all academic collections."- Choice
'œCorti's command of the various historical periods and languages is impressive, as are her frequent insightful conclusions....scholars and graduate students of comparative literature and drama will benefit from this book, and Conti's style and language...are generally accessible and clear.'' Religious Studies Review
"Lillian Corti's impressive study deserves the epithet 'comprehensive' more than most tracings of a Classical myth through Western literature and social thought....In short, [the author's] brilliant treatment of the larger social themes embedded in the story of Jason and Medea produces not only a book to learn from, but a model for other studies of the psycho-ideological roots of major thematic concerns in Western literature." - Donald H. Reiman Editor Shelley and his Circle, The New York Public Library Adjunct Professor of English, University of Delaware
"Corti's command of the various historical periods and languages is impressive, as are her frequent insightful conclusions....scholars and graduate students of comparative literature and drama will benefit from this book, and Conti's style and language...are generally accessible and clear."- Religious Studies Review
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Corti focuses on the meaning and importance of the act of child murder in literary treatments of the ancient myth. She insists on the connection between the structure of tragedy and the psychology of abuse, arguing that the tragedy of Medea dramatizes the violent hostility toward children, which is always potentially present in patriarchal culture despite the conspicuous emphasis on positive descriptions of parental love in officially sanctioned discourse.
Long Description
Corti focuses on the meaning and importance of the act of child murder in literary treatments of the ancient myth. A projection of commonly experienced emotions that are often repressed and denied, Medea is the central figure in a tragedy encompassing the psychology of abusive individuals as well as the destructive quality of patriarchal institutions. In the Euripidean prototype of the tragedy, child murder exposes the ironic issue of archaic communal values, and in the version by the Roman Seneca, disaster results from decadent emotional excess, but Corti asserts that the ancient custom of exposing superfluous infants is relevant to the psychology of both works. The abandonment of infants and persecution of witches are essential elements in the context of Pierre Corneille's vision of Medea as absolute authority imposing order on the petty rivalries of aristocratic children. In the pessimistic drama of the 19th century Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer, the punitive pedagogy of abusive parents, the disruptive effects of repressed memory, and the persecutory potential of group psychology function together as a constellation of interdependent pathologies. Finally, Corti asserts that the extraordinary number of 20th-century writers who have presented versions of the myth of Medea suggests that the drama of child murder is peculiarly relevant to the human predicament in our own age. An important work for students, scholars, and other researchers concerned with myth, world literature, cultural and women's studies, gender, and the psychology of abuse.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Corti focuses on the meaning of child murder in literary treatments of the ancient myth. A projection of common emotions, often repressed and denied, Medea is the central figure in a tragedy encompassing the psychology of abusive individuals.
Long Description
Corti focuses on the meaning and importance of the act of child murder in literary treatments of the ancient myth. A projection of commonly experienced emotions that are often repressed and denied, Medea is the central figure in a tragedy encompassing the psychology of abusive individuals as well as the destructive quality of patriarchal institutions. In the Euripidean prototype of the tragedy, child murder exposes the ironic issue of archaic communal values, and in the version by the Roman Seneca, disaster results from decadent emotional excess, but Corti asserts that the ancient custom of "exposing" superfluous infants is relevant to the psychology of both works. The abandonment of infants and persecution of "witches" are essential elements in the context of Pierre Corneille's vision of Medea as absolute authority imposing order on the petty rivalries of aristocratic "children." In the pessimistic drama of the 19th century Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer, the punitive pedagogy of abusive parents, the disruptive effects of repressed memory, and the persecutory potential of group psychology function together as a constellation of interdependent pathologies. Finally, Corti asserts that the extraordinary number of 20th-century writers who have presented versions of the myth of Medea suggests that the drama of child murder is peculiarly relevant to the human predicament in our own age. An important work for students, scholars, and other researchers concerned with myth, world literature, cultural and women's studies, gender, and the psychology of abuse.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. ix
Performances and Productionsp. xix
Murderous Desire, Psychological Defenses and Unconscious Rationalityp. 1
Euripides and the Tyranny of Honorp. 29
Seneca and the Scourge of Angerp. 59
Corneille and the Importance of Gratitudep. 85
Grillparzer and the Cycle of Abusep. 119
Medea in the Twentieth Centuryp. 177
Works Citedp. 221
Indexp. 235
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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