In this provocative, pioneering, and wholly engrossing cultural history, noted scholar Marilyn Yalom explores twenty-five thousand years of ideas, images, and perceptions of the female breast–in religion, psychology, politics, society, and the arts.
Through the centuries, the breast has been laden with hugely powerful and contradictory meanings. There is the "good breast" of reverence and life, the breast that nourishes infants and entire communities, as depicted in ancient idols, fifteenth-century Italian Madonnas, and representations of equality in the French Revolution. Then there is the "bad breast" of Ezekiel’s wanton harlots, Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, and the torpedo-breasted dominatrix, symbolizing enticement and aggression. Yalom examines these contradictions–and illuminates the implications behind them.
A fascinating, astute, and richly allusive journey from Paleolithic goddesses to modern day feminists, A History of the Breast is full of insight and surprises. As Yalom says, "I intend to make you think about women’s breasts as you never have before." In this, she succeeds brilliantly.
About Marilyn Yalom
Marilyn Yalom is a former professor of French and a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She is the author of widely acclaimed books, such as A History of the Breast, A History of the… More about Marilyn Yalom
This is the sort of book that I would pick off the shelf immediately just upon seeing the title. What could be more fascinating than an exploration of society’s obsession with this particular part of the female anatomy? Marilyn Yalom’s meticulously well-researched text spans "25,000 years of ideas, images, and perceptions of the female breast–in religion, psychology, politics, society and the arts." That’s quite an undertaking and Yalom succeeds brilliantly in all aspects. It is both in-depth and readable; Yalom is as much a writer as she is a researcher. A History of the Breast is the perfect springboard to a deeper understanding of the often very dark cultural significance of the female form.