Thursday 6 March 2014

Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism

I reviewed Marina Warner's reissued Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism (OUP, 2013) for Women's History Magazine Issue 74, Spring 2014. It was a fascinating book and one that I recommend. Warner seeks to look both at Joan's life and her afterlife in her study of the French heroine's impact and historical importance.

Warner ends her comprehensive study with the analysis of Joan that 'she has been set up as a stable monolith in an unstable world, and yet all the different uses to which she has been put proves only the vanity of our widespread refusal to accept that it is impossible to trap the idea of virtue within boundaries that will not alter'. Her Joan is both stable and changeable, with the historical figure still firmly at the core of the myth.


  1. Interesting book, thank you for highlighting it. Vintage postcards of Basilique Notre-Dame de Bonsecours (wonderful interior!) led us to a tale of a mother’s love, faith and Joan d’Arc. Joan's memorial at Rouen is next to the Basilica (which also has a statue to Joan of Arc). Isabelle Romée was nearly as remarkable as her daughter.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I have just read (and commented) on your post on Joan's mother. I had no idea she was so fascinating. To travel as a relatively low status woman to Rome in the medieval period was almost unheard of. She must have been remarkable and it is easy to see how she produced Joan of Arc. Thank you for drawing your post to my attention!