978-0-330-33699-4 / 9780330336994

The Story of Eve





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About the book:

Eve: A Biography, by Pamela Norris, is a lively, erudite and accessible story about "history's first bad girl, who carelessly threw away the chance of Paradise". Part I, "The Making of A Bad Reputation", describes Eve's significance in early Jewish and Christian communities. Ancient rabbis considered Eve's primary role to be the "mother of all living", and used her sin as an example of what can happen to women who stray from their childbearing duties. Later Christian readers began the tradition of invoking Eve as the exemplar of sexual temptation--"the Devil's gateway" and "the first deserter of the divine law". Citing many such passages of religious history, Norris argues that the story of Eve "was developed to manipulate and control women". Although Norris's theological thinking is not as subtle as it could be, Eve is no facile feminist screed. The book's second half is particularly strong. In "Fantasies of Eve", Norris considers Eve's literary incarnations in the works of Milton, Hawthorne and Ursula K LeGuin, among others. Moving from Scripture to secular literature, Norris patiently and brilliantly traces the slow and limited evolution of Eve's story into a defence of "the need to challenge boundaries, to make the imaginative leap, however difficult, unpredictable and even dangerous, into a new phase of existence". --Michael Joseph Gross

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