Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sirens: Symbols of Seduction by Meri Lao

Seduction and the Secret Power of Women: The Lure of Sirens and Mermaids Sirens: Symbols of Seduction Sirens: Symbols of Seduction

No, I haven't forgotten about mermaids although there haven't been any posts in a few days about them. During my research for Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World.

Sirens: Symbols of Seduction (hardcover) or Sirens: Symbols of Seduction (paperback) is one of the other best books I found besides the Sea Enchantress the Tale of the Mermaid and Her Kin book I discussed previously. The most confusing thing about this book is the many editions of which I am not sure if there are multiple editions with different text or simple title and format changes or what. I bought the black hardcover edition and it is excellent. I don't know for sure if it is different from the only edition in print at the moment, Seduction and the Secret Power of Women: The Lure of Sirens and Mermaids.

Sirens: Symbols of Seduction is a lighter tome than the more academic Sea Enchantress, but it provides an excellent overview of sirens and mermaids with discussion of several tales and most importantly, many images which the other book is lacking.

The book was originally written in Italian in 1985 and has been translated into English for these editions. The bibliography--one of the first things I check in a book--is wonderfully long but almost all of the sources are in languages other than English, so that won't help those who are reliant on English language books.

Either way, I recommend the book. Here is a description for it from the publisher:

An exploration of humanity’s age-old fascination with Sirens

• Explains the Sirens’ half-human, half-animal bodies as a metaphor for the psychological challenge that their myth has always embodied

• Fully illustrated in color with works by Rubens, Bosch, Munch, Magritte, and others

Their celestial voices drove mast-lashed Ulysses nearly out of his mind with libidinous promises as they beckoned him ever-closer to paradise--or a rocky death. With womanly torsos and animal lower halves, usually birds or fish, Sirens have long been symbols of the lure of desire--the feminine, as seducer--beckoning men to mystery beyond their ken, or to disaster. This book is both a celebration of Sirens and an examination of the psychology of dichotomy--the diametrically opposed drives and inherent conflicts underlying this female archetype.

Since antiquity, Sirens and their mermaid sisters have maintained an ongoing affair of the heart with humanity’s greatest writers and artists. Sirens play important roles in the classical writings of Homer and Euripides, as well as in the modern works of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and many others. Matching these writings with vibrant work from such artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Hieronymous Bosch, Edvard Munch, and René Magritte, Meri Lao has created a feast for the eye. Exploring our 3,000-year-old relationship with Sirens, Lao reveals the secret of the power in their song: it is the sound of the subversive, luring us from the orderly conscious world down to the depth of the world of dreams, and the harder we try to ignore that singing, the more we desperately want to hear it.
Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales From Around the World

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