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Book of the Month - May 2018

Our May Book of the Month is The Medusa Gaze in Contemporary Women’s Fiction: Petrifying, Maternal and Redemptive by Gillian M. E. Alban.

The Greek monster Medusa is arguably the original stuff of nightmares – countless venomous snakes for hair and a gaze that turned all who looked at her to pure stone. Her legend lives on in fiction, poetry, film, and art. Yet as this book by Gillian M.E. Alban suggests, the figure of Medusa is one that helps reveal much about the contemporary desires and frustrations of women.


This book offers striking insights into the desires and frustrations of women through the narratives of impressive contemporary novelists. Crafting its analysis on the gaze as presented by Lacan and Sartre, the book demonstrates how the subject creates her own ego against her alter egos or hostile others in the mirrors facing her, offering insight into women’s powers and weaknesses. The first two chapters trace the women stalking its pages under a panoptic gaze, as they learn how to revert their look defiantly back onto others. Some win assurance through their own assertive gaze; others are stared down, reduced to psychic trauma, madness and even suicide. The book then goes on to show how androcentric views such as Freud’s perceive Medusa mothers as monstrous, splintering them from their daughters in the Electra syndrome. The efforts of mothers to nurture their children may be slighted as inadequate, with the mother’s nurture condemned as devouring. The following pair of chapters present Medusa and inspiring goddesses motivating and reverting evil through the ‘evil eye’ of their powerful gaze or inspirational force. These literary discussions illuminate women’s force in the writings of Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood, and others.


To find out more, please click here to read a sample extract and contents page.

We are offering all of our readers a generous 60% discount on this best-selling title in both its hardback and paperback versions. To redeem your discount, please enter the promotional code BOMMAY18 during checkout. Please note that this is a time-limited offer that will expire on 1st June 2018.

Please see below for highlights of the praise this book has been receiving:


"This book offers many insights as the reader is taken through multiple literary works. It could be a journey through hellish places you have been, or quandaries you have known, and how your spirit intuitively coped, put strategies in place to ensure your survival. [...] The Medusa Gaze is an empowering reflection on the complexities of woman’s situation, across diverse cultural experiences and personal particularities, gazing as it is from within female eyes, thus speaking a truth – which could change the world, as small particles may."

—Glenys Livingstone, PhD, co-editor of Re-visioning Medusa: from Monster to Divine Wisdom

"This book demonstrates how a focus on the various interpretations of what one is tempted to call, in formalist terms, the Medusa function, can be applied to enrich our readings of literary works. In such discussions one may find a woman character who is presented as, for example, a producer of the Medusa gaze, as a ‘monstrous and terrifying Medusa’ or as an ‘icon of worship’. This book introduces, explores and persuasively argues about the significance of the conflicting, troubling, powerful and fascinating Medusa roles of women in modern and contemporary fiction."

—Margaret J-M Sönmez, Middle East Technical University

"[O]ver time, there have been many interpretations of Medusa that have emerged and invite further examination. Enter Gillian Alban whose research and writing are creating a dialogue that extends beyond [the] narrow viewpoint of the Medusa woman as monstrous and petrifying, to include a spectrum of attributes from maternal to redemptive. [...] For such a multi-layered subject, the book is a very accessible and portable read."

—Monisha Kar, Lale: Magazine of the International Women of Istanbul

"Filled with beautiful original artwork, The Medusa Gaze threads together several marvelous and diverse women authors, providing a sustained and attentive close reading of the female characters’ lives and psyches as girls, friends, lovers, and mothers. In so doing, the book invites a wholesale re-evaluation of the power and beauty of the ancient Medusa myth. If some of the works examined seem to beg for further analysis or investigation into the function or purpose of this mythical figure in contemporary literature, this leaves the door open to future scholars to take up the lens Alban has offered and see what insights about the feminine it may reveal."

—Misty Urban, femmeliterate


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