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Beauty And the Monster. Discursive And Figurative Representations of the Parental Couple from Giotto to Tiepolo. [Paperback]

By Luisa Accati (Author)
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Item description for Beauty And the Monster. Discursive And Figurative Representations of the Parental Couple from Giotto to Tiepolo. by Luisa Accati...

Beauty And the Monster. Discursive And Figurative Representations of the Parental Couple from Giotto to Tiepolo. by Luisa Accati

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Item Specifications...

Studio: European Press Academic Publishing
Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.35" Width: 5.51" Height: 0.94"
Weight:   1.01 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 28, 2006
Publisher   European Press Academic Publishing
ISBN  8883980417  
ISBN13  9788883980411  

Availability  128 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 07:31.
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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History > Criticism
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Artists, A-Z > ( S-U ) > Tiepolo, Giovanni Battista
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Anthropology > Cultural
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Beauty And the Monster. Discursive And Figurative Representations of the Parental Couple from Giotto to Tiepolo.?

James H. Beck's review  May 25, 2006
Luisa Accati brings to her analysis of the imagery of parental couples not only the methodology of a demanding historian, but experiences with anthropology and psychoanalysis, to which she adds an enthusiastic and deeply engaged understanding of painting from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
Ilaria B. Sborgi 's book review  Mar 27, 2006
Luisa Accati's book, Beauty And the Monster. Discorsive and Figurative Representations of the Parental Couple from Giotto to Tiepolo, has been published in English by European Press Academic Publishing. This certainly is a `privileged' way of reading a book, for though I do not believe that an author has the `final say' on what s/he has written, I do believe that reading is a kind of dialogue, or rather a `trialogue' between reader, writer and text, and in this sense, I feel I was given a special opportunity. By this, however, I don't mean to claim any sort of authority for myself, but simply to give you the coordinates of my reading experience.
Beauty and the Monster is a challenging book, for it is as complex as it is compelling. It's aim is to analyze the transformation of the maternal image in Western Catholic culture, and the consequent transformation of the notion of conception, from the relationship between parents to that between mother and child. "This book," Accati writes, "starts from basic personal experience, such as being a son or a daughter, and attempts to show how daily conflicts -see those with one's parents- are influenced by images, symbols and events that are very distant in time, even though we are not fully aware of them." Accati's aim, in fact, is to analyze the transformation of the maternal image by studying one of the major symbols of Western Catholicism, the Immaculate Conception, and showing its tremendous historical impact on the Catholic education of sentiments. In order to do so, the author employs three methodological "tools"-anthropology, history and psychoanalysis-in a comparative manner.
The book in fact begins with the description of a present-day marriage ceremony in the Oratorio della Purità (Udine, northern Italy). The ritual is "observed as if it were a theatrical scenario." This allows the author to apply her three-fold analysis. By comparing the anthropological context of the marriage ceremony, with the historical context of the church's paintings and ornaments (18th century), Accati uncovers "the political goals of the Catholic education of sentiments." In the first part of her book (chapter one and two), she thus analyzes the wedding scenario from an anthropological point of view, looking at the contrast between the words exchanged by the bride and groom, and the paintings in the Oratorio della Purità, and comparing the marriage ritual to a sacrificial rite in which the bride is immolated in view of her future children, and the groom-father gradually disappears. Religious art, Accati points out, "indicates that the mother-son relationship has evolved towards a suffocating fusion; a fusion that has progressively erased the father figure."
In the second, third, and fourth parts of the book, on the other hand, Accati gives a series of historical readings of this suffocating relationship and what she considers to be its political consequences: anti-Semitism and misogyny. Her analysis thus ranges from a historical account of the theological debate on Mary's Immaculate Conception, to a study of the artistic transformations of its representation, from the gradual elimination of male paternal figures (St. Joseph and St. Joachim), to the study of women mystics, from the representations of mothers adoring their sons, to that of mothers dreamt and idealized by their celibate sons.
In the fifth part, the author returns to anthropology focusing on incest prohibition and the ways in which, at the turn of this century, religion, psychoanalysis and anthropology all reflected the "intention to eliminate the father." While in the Old Testament the sexual union between mother and father was in fact considered a positive value, in the New Testament, Accati argues, it is considered something negative, a sin. "The New Testament", she continues, "aims to overcome incest prohibition, by eliminating the sexual instinct instead of regulating it." This leads to the gradual erasure of the father figure, and the Christian, anti-Semitic attitude towards Judaism as an old tradition to be overcome: the Jewish God of the Old Testament is replaced by the Christian God of the New Testament, God the Father is replaced by God the Son.
In the sixth and final part of Beauty and the Monster, the focus shifts on contemporary Italy and the socio-political consequences of the Catholic fusion between mother (Mary) and son (Christ). By looking at the different history of Protestant women and their different relationship with the symbol of the Virgin Mary, Accati takes her analysis to the core of events such as ethnic rapes in Bosnia, nationalist wars, and the Italian abortion debate. "The misogyny present in ethnic violence and nationalist wars," Accati writes, "emerges as a consequence of the difficulty to relate with one's mother, while anti-Semitism appears to originate in the recurring difficulty to relate with the father."
Finally, in her conclusions, the author re-states her argument of the father's removal in favor of a binding relationship between mother and son, through a psychoanalytical lens that is present throughout her text, yet underlined here in a fascinating comparison between Freud and Lacan.
Full of so many intellectual stimuli and suggestions for further reflection, Luisa Accati's book offers a complex challenge to the reader and translator faced with its multiple methodological and thematic layers, but also an enticing and provocative epistemological adventure I invite you to pursue.
Luisa Passerini's review  Mar 27, 2006
The subtitle clearly indicates that Luisa Accati's book does not merely analyze the female figure, but rather studies the deep connections between the cultural conceptions of masculine and feminine. It is not by chance that in the book's "Conclusions" Accati rereads Freud and grants him the merit--despite feminist readings and the changes enforced by his followers--of attributing important roles to both the father and mother in the process of construction of the symbolic order. The whole book in fact aims to show how, in the course of history, different conceptions of the mother, for example the erasure of her sexuality, have had inevitable consequences on the image of the father and of the son. The double aim suggested by the title and subtitle is in fact only one of the many layers present in this evocative and complex book, which demands that we enter a logic that the author does not immediately or totally uncover. Among the many possible readings evoked by Beauty and the Monster there is the one I attempt here, positioning myself on a decidedly methodological level.
From this perspective, we will encounter a multiplicity of scientific practices taken from various disciplines: the research work at the Archiepiscopal Archive in Udine, the gathering of the biographies of middle class teachers and housewives in that same city, the borrowing of hermeneutical tools from both psychoanalysis and the theater, all indicate an attempt to combine the study of the past and the present so as to highlight the political aims of the Catholic education of sentiments. The author's polemical intent towards the latter is constant throughout the book, and yet the book's significance is not limited to such polemics. The disciplines involved in Accati's study are history, anthropology, psychoanalysis, and art history (see chapter 7 and its keen analysis of the representations of the mother adoring the child throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th century).
The combination of different disciplinary approaches contributes to establish that which I consider, methodologically, the book's principal merit: the constitution of an uncommon analytical ground that mediates between scientific tradition on the one side, and everyday culture on the other. At times, one of these two `poles' prevails on the other, as in chapter 6 where the former has the better on the latter in Accati's close comparison between her own work and that of Caroline Bynum. And yet, the other pole is also present, even if less visibly, when Accati addresses the erasure of the `active' features of female identity and their substitution with only `passive' features. The most fascinating parts of the book are, in my opinion, those in which these two poles or perspectives merge, as in the beginning of the book, where the author analyzes a marriage ritual in the "Oratorio della Purità" in Udine. Here, not only do the different disciplinary approaches blend together, but also, and above all, Accati's two perspectives: that of the scholar who is critical towards the scientific tradition, and that of the intellectual who observes her own times. Furthermore, a very important theme also appears here for the first time, a theme that the entire book helps us to understand, i.e., the relationship between passivity and activity in the definition of the female subject (with important observations on the powerful aspects of passivity).
The construction of this unusual analytical ground, which needs to be be constantly reaffirmed, allows the author to move across an extensive period of time (our entire millennium), and to address many different phenomena, from the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast to the dogma of Immaculate Conception. I do not have the competence to evaluate whether Accati's critical lunges are all completely grounded, but I do appreciate her effort and believe it helps to highlight unforseen connections or at least usually hidden ones. Furthermore, this complex analytical ground provides a viewpoint from which no position can elude criticism, not even the very disciplines that Accati employs in her study, such as psychoanalysis (see her amusing observations on Lacan in the book's Conclusions), anthropology (see her mention of the misleading influences of the Christian imaginary upon anthropologists), as well as feminism. With regard to the latter and gender studies, the author's position--contrary both to biological and cultural determinism--is very clear: to uphold the historically produced nature of women's different thoughts and experiences against all forms of essentialism, so as to preserve this difference from assimilation and transform it into a guarantee against scientific omnipotence.
One of the results of this comprehensive critical approach is the possibility to analyze the "Italian scenario" in relation to a comparison between predominantly Protestant countries, such as England and the United States, and predominantly Catholic ones such as ours. Accati interprets the Italian situation of scarce paternal and civil authority on the one hand, and of a substantial acceptance of the Church's social control of women on the other, as the source of our weak democratic tradition. I believe these are important remarks, even though they do not diminish the significance of more political roots, such as the supremacy of the Catholic and Communist traditions. Yet we must focus upon the former if we want to change the customs and self-image of Italians.
Last but not least, Accati's writing is full of surprises and challenges, with quick and witty passages from "high" to "low" registers that can lead us both to distress and reflection. This is a courageous book that remains faithful to a suggestion given by the author's son (as Accati writes in the Foreword), i.e., to develop a project that can be defended and yet is not beyond criticism. The boldness of this intention invites us to reflect anthropologically upon the past and historically upon our present, without forgetting the obscure roots of individual and collective subjectivity.

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