The Legacy of Ovid's Pygmalion Myth on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman

The Legacy of Ovid's Pygmalion Myth on Screen: In Pursuit of the Perfect Woman

Hardback Continuum Studies in Classical Reception

By (author) Paula James

$111.65

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  • Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • Format: Hardback | 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 164mm x 246mm x 26mm | 558g
  • Publication date: 8 December 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 144118466X
  • ISBN 13: 9781441184665
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 1,385,307

Product description

Exploration of the reception of Ovid's myth thorughout history in fiction, film and television. 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. "Continuum Studies in Classical Reception" presents scholarly monographs offering new and innovative research and debate to students and scholars in the reception of 'Classical Studies'. Each volume will explore the appropriation, reconceptualization and recontextualization of various aspects of the Graeco-Roman world and its culture, looking at the impact of the ancient world on modernity. Research will also cover reception within antiquity, the theory and practice of translation, and reception theory.

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Author information

Paula James is Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University, UK, and has published widely in Latin Literature and on the reception of classical motifs in popular culture. She has appeared on 'Womens Hour' on Radio 4 to talk about her previos book The Role of the Parrot in Selected Texts from Ovid to Jean Rhysand has also appeared on Radio 3's Greek and Roman Essay series, speaking on Cicero.

Review quote

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

Table of contents

1. Preface - Why Pygmalion?; 2. Introduction - Ovid's Pygmalion Myth and its cultural contexts; 3. My Fair Lady: the make-over movie from Shaw's Pygmalion to Miss Congeniality; 4. Bringing the Gods down to Earth - supernatural statues on film; 5. Lesser mortals, lesser movies and the mannequin factor; 6. Bathos and Pathos - perfect girlfriends who fail to please; 7. Producing Pandoras - screen robots and 'virtual' women as unpredictable partners; 8. Role reversals: Female empowerment and Haraway's 'cyborg manifesto'; 9. Crossing boundaries: returning Pygmalion to the pedestal?; 10. Where do we go from here? Thinking with Myth and Myth-making in the future; Bibliography; Index.