Read Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions by Lucy Hughes-Hallett Free Online
Book Title: Cleopatra: Histories, Dreams, and Distortions|
The author of the book: Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Edition: HarperCollins Publishers
Date of issue: May 28th 1991
ISBN 13: 9780060920937
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.17 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.6
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Before I start this review, I have to thank Sisimka. She's the reason I have this book. Thank you Sisimka.
Helen might have been the face that launched a thousand ships, but Cleopatra went further with a vulture beak on her face. Honestly, Cleopatra's nose was ugly. Yet, society credits Cleopatra with being a great beauty. A sexual adventuress, a femme fatale, a hot, murdering mama. But not really a mother, though she did have four children.
Lucy Hughes-Hallett examines the myths and views of Cleopatra thoughout the ages. She spends the first section of the book going into detail about Ocatvain's story about Cleopatra versus what Cleopatra's story might have been. It is this first section of the book that provides biographically detail. Readers should be warned, however, that this book is not a biography of Cleopatra. Readers who want a straight forward biography should check out Michael Grant's work. The second half of the book deals with how artists and writers thoughout the ages have treated Cleopatra. The book was published in 199o so more recent treatments such as The Memoirs of Cleopatra are not mentioned.
Hallett raises several interesting points. We are fasnicated by Cleopatra, but even today it is more in terms of her love affairs (and it seems she only had two) more than anything else. How many people reading this review, for instance, knew Cleopatra had four children? Having her as a mother limits the sexual beauty of Cleopatra that society has in its mind. The same is true of Helen, who was a mother when she abanonded husband and child to run off with Paris. Hallett focues on the idea of Cleopatra as other, as the Orient to the West and how each author uses Cleopatra to show how HE and his society sees women.
What I found to be very interesting is the sheer number of paintings that show Cleopatra having the asp bite her breast when she commits suicide (Ouch!). There is proably some deep symbolism here, the inversion of life or something, and I wish Hallett had gone into that aspect of it a bit more.
Hallett's conclusions still ring true today. Even in a pro-Cleopatra novel like The Memoirs of Cleopatrathe plot focuces on the love affairs. Cleopatra comes across as a saint and the men are not good enough for her. Then there is the other extreme, Cleopatra the queenly whore as in For Destiny or Desire. Cleopatra becomes what the writer wants her to be, sainted matyr or trashy romance heroine, not really who she was.
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