Salome: The Image of a Woman Who Never Was; Salome: Nymph, Seducer, Destroyer

Although the root of the Hebrew name “Salome” is “peaceful”, the image spawned by the most famous woman to carry that name has been anything but peaceful. She and her story have long been linked to the beheading of John the Baptist, as described in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, since Salome was the supposed catalyst for the prophet’s execution.

This history of the myth of Salome describes the process by which that myth was created, the roles that art, literature, theology and music played in that creation, and how Salome’s image as evil varied from one period to another according to the prevailing cultural myths surrounding women. After setting forth the Biblical and historical origins of the Salome story, the book examines the major cultural, literary and artistic works which developed and propagated it, including those by Filippo Lippi, Rogier van der Weyden, Titian, Moreau, Beardsley, Mallarmé, Wilde and Richard Strauss.

Rosina Neginsky is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She teaches comparative literature and art history. She is the president and founder of the international interdisciplinary organization Art, Literature, Music in Symbolism and Decadence (ALMSD), the author of the book Zinaida Vengerova: In Search of Beauty, of several books of poetry, of which the most recent is Juggler, and the editor of the volume Symbolism, Its Origins and Its Consequences. Neginsky is a 2008 recipient of the University Scholar Award, the most prestigious award which the University of Illinois gives to members of the faculty.

“Rosina Neginsky’s compelling study of Salome is an inquiry into how that figure, and the myth that has been created about her, has changed over time. Beginning with the history and myth in Biblical times, Neginsky follows Salome through Christian theology and myths of woman, the beautiful Salome of the Renaissance, and the seducer-destroyer she becomes in Oscar Wilde and in the nineteenth century generally. Neginsky looks at painting as well as literary texts to uncover the assumptions at work in the alluring princess we know as ‘Salome.’”
– Françoise Meltzer, Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities, Chair of Comparative Literature, University of Chicago, USA

"In a remarkable display of interdisciplinary erudition, Rosina Neginsky explores the Salome myth across the centuries, in different artistic media. This is a fine book, rich in sensitive analyses and new interpretations of a wide variety of works of visual art, literature and music."

Peter Cooke Senior Lecturer in French Studies, University of Manchester

"The unique case of a martyrdom in the ancient world transformed into the myth of a femme fatale – the decapitation of John the Baptist at the dawn of Christianity – has inspired artists in all disciplines and exemplifies the evolution through time of the place of women in Western society. In this remarkable multidisciplinary study, which begins with the Bible and continues through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Rosina Neginsky unveils all the facets of the myth and leads us across the centuries in a subtle and insightful way, from sculpture and painting to literature and music. Gustave Flaubert, Gustave Moreau, Oscar Wilde or Richard Strauss, by choosing the theme of Salome, attain universal status."

Geneviève Lacambre Honorary General Curator of the Patrimony, former Director of the Musée Gustave Moreau, Paris, France

"Salome: The Image of a Woman Who Never Was is a book that focuses on the single figure of Salome, but this focus, as the author Rosina Neginsky explains, allows her to examine the process of myth generation, the link between how stories proliferated about Salome and how they do so about women in society in general. [...] [A]nyone interested in the intersections between cultural norms and art or the feminist movement in the period will find that this focus on one particular iteration of mythical woman can add to ongoing conversations about the ideology of Victorian gender."

Year's Work in English Studies, 95: 1 (2016)

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ISBN: 1-4438-4621-X

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-4621-9

Release Date: 6th August 2013

Pages: 288

Price: £49.99


ISBN: 1-5275-1125-1

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-1125-5

Release Date: 25th June 2018

Pages: 288

Price: £36.99