Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

by Mary Gordon

One would expect nothing from Gordon (Spending) than a splendid, spare account of Joan's life -- and she delivers in this slender but satisfying account, a new entry in the Penguin Lives series.

Novelist Gordon, who has always been fascinated by the young heroine, emphasizes Joan the girl.

But Gordon's Joan "has a young girl's heedness, sureness, readiness for utter self-surrender".

This biography rehearses the well-known highlights in Joan's short life: the voices she heard who charged her with the mission to save France; her participation in the Battle of Orleans and the coronation of King Charles VII; her trial by an ecclesiastical court, where she was charged with witchcraft, heresy and idolatry.

Gordon recounts Joan's excommunication and execution in spare and arresting detail.

  • Series: Penguin Lives
  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.46
  • Pages: 208
  • Publish Date: March 20th 2000 by Viking Adult
  • Isbn10: 0670885371
  • Isbn13: 9780670885374

What People Think about "Joan of Arc"

MARY GORDON IS A BIG FAT PHONY Nothing is more depressing than reading the New York Times Book Review. Just the other day Mary Gordon wrote a front page review praising the new novel by Louise Erdrich, the famous Native American author. Now Ive got nothing against Louise Erdrich, but Ive been reading the novels and essays of Mary Gordon for over thirty years. And by the time I finished reading the review, I just wanted to throw up. Read her first two novels, Final Payments and The Company of Women and you see where Mary Gordon is really coming from. The innocent, secluded, Irish Catholic world that Mary Gordon celebrates in her early novels is a world that was only made possible by systematic racial violence on a massive scale going back nearly a hundred years to the Draft Riots of 1863. Only those early novels of Mary Gordons dont really celebrate sisterhood. Worst of all, in a Mary Gordon novel the Prim Irish Heroine is always recoiling in disgust from noisy black kids dribbling basketballs, or loudmouthed black women arguing about sex, or coarse campus radicals bragging about wanting to be born Third World. Check out Mary Gordons truly astonishing biography of Joan of Arc. Did you know that Joan of Arc never menstruated? I don't know how Mary Gordon does her research, but she seems to think that's terribly important. Joan of Arc matters to the whole world because she saved something truly eternal and important, like French civilization. Mary Gordon reveres women who tell the stories of the forgotten, like Toni Morrison and Louise Erdrich. Evidently in her newest novel Louise Erdrich tells the story of a Native American priest who falls for a female parishioner, but realizes their love can never be. Mary Gordon quotes the priest as saying something like, you want her, but you can never have her.

Mary Gordon reviews The Messenger and Joan of Arc in Chapter 7. Milla Jovovich starred in The Messenger and Leelee Sobieski in Joan of Arc. Mary Gordon said of Sobieski, "...looks the part, although she delivers her lines with the flatness of a depressed teenager...."; of Jovovich, "...she may be further off the mark than Shakespeare or Schiller." Shakespeare had demonized Joan of Arc's character. Jovovich and Sobieski honored Joan, yet in their own way. I disagree with Gordon, Jovovich looked the part, not Sobieski. Joan of Arc by Mary Gordon Five quotes honoring Joan's life: When I was thirteen years old, I had a Voice from God to help me govern my conduct.

Despite this blatant lie, I did find the author brought up some interesting points: "Charles and Joan illustrate a phenomenon that occurs when young women want to move from the realm of the symbolic, where male imagination has placed them, to the realm of the actual, where they want to be.

Gordon went a long way in establishing the context surrounding Joan; how Joan fit into society and how that society was created the myth, legend and icon that is Joan of Arc. It very intriguing how an uneducated, religious peasant girl is able to lead the army of France into battle to allow the dauphin Charles to be crowned King, establishing her place in the larger theatre that was 16th century French politics, religion and royalty is fascinating.

She did hear voices from God telling her what to do, but the book almost has you thinking "well, she was crazy, not religious".

I enjoyed this book, but feel like it only skimmed the surface about Joan of Arc. She's still as enigmatic to me now as she was before I read the book.

Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. She and her husband, Arthur Cash, live in New York City and Hope Valley, Rhode Island.