Seduction and the Secret Power of Women

Seduction and the Secret Power of Women

The Lure of Sirens and Mermaids

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An exploration of humanity’s age-old fascination with Sirens

• Explains the Sirens’ half-human, half-animal bodies as a metaphor for the psychological challenge that their myth has always embodied

• Fully illustrated in color with works by Rubens, Bosch, Munch, Magritte, and others

Their celestial voices drove mast-lashed Ulysses nearly out of his mind with libidinous promises as they beckoned him ever-closer to paradise--or a rocky death. With womanly torsos and animal lower halves, usually birds or fish, Sirens have long been symbols of the lure of desire--the feminine, as seducer--beckoning men to mystery beyond their ken, or to disaster. This book is both a celebration of Sirens and an examination of the psychology of dichotomy--the diametrically opposed drives and inherent conflicts underlying this female archetype.

Since antiquity, Sirens and their mermaid sisters have maintained an ongoing affair of the heart with humanity’s greatest writers and artists. Sirens play important roles in the classical writings of Homer and Euripides, as well as in the modern works of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, and many others. Matching these writings with vibrant work from such artists as Peter Paul Rubens, Hieronymous Bosch, Edvard Munch, and René Magritte, Meri Lao has created a feast for the eye. Exploring our 3,000-year-old relationship with Sirens, Lao reveals the secret of the power in their song: it is the sound of the subversive, luring us from the orderly conscious world down to the depth of the world of dreams, and the harder we try to ignore that singing, the more we desperately want to hear it.
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  • Park Street Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781594772016 | 
  • October 2007
List Price $19.95
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Read an Excerpt

from the Introduction

Creatures of the air, the Sirens have mastery over space and the summits and the faculty of rising in flight to the heavens. The wing challenges the laws of gravity. The lightness of the feather implies the speed of a whiplash--sail, glide, vanish, hover in the ether. Air brings to mind soul, aura, voices rising, hymn. Bathing in the celestial element of light, the Sirens epitomize purity, ascension, enlightenment: the inaccessible, the divine.

Sirens have never been reputed to capture women, which may be explained by the fact that women rarely set off on sea voyages. Had they done so, considerably more... see more

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