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The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was : Myths of Self-Imitation - Wendy Doniger

The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was

Myths of Self-Imitation

Hardcover Published: 10th March 2005
ISBN: 9780195160161
Number Of Pages: 284

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Many cultures have myths about self-imitation, stories about people who pretend to be someone else pretending to be them, in effect masquerading as themselves. This great theme, in literature and in life, tells us that people put on masks to discover who they really are under the masks they usually wear, so that the mask reveals rather than conceals the self beneath the self.
In this book, noted scholar of Hinduism and mythology Wendy Doniger offers a cross-cultural exploration of the theme of self-impersonation, whose widespread occurrence argues for both its literary power and its human value. The stories she considers range from ancient Indian literature through medieval European courtly literature and Shakespeare to Hollywood and Bollywood. They illuminate a basic human way of negotiating reality, illusion, identity, and authenticity, not to mention memory, amnesia, and the process of aging. Many of them involve marriage and adultery, for tales of sexual betrayal cut to the heart of the crisis of identity.
These stories are extreme examples of what we common folk do, unconsciously, every day. Few of us actually put on masks that replicate our faces, but it is not uncommon for us to become travesties of ourselves, particularly as we age and change. We often slip carelessly across the permeable boundary between the un-self-conscious self-indulgence of our most idiosyncratic mannerisms and the conscious attempt to give the people who know us, personally or publicly, the version of ourselves that they expect. Myths of self-imitation open up for us the possibility of multiple selves and the infinite regress of self-discovery.
Drawing on a dizzying array of tales-some fact, some fiction-The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was is a fascinating and learned trip through centuries of culture, guided by a scholar of incomparable wit and erudition.

Industry Reviews

"Doniger's sense of play and delight seems so utterly natural that one sometimes forgets that she is revealing ancient truths about who we are and how we live, about the patterns of human relationships and other messy realities."--Parabola "Another subtle and dizzying study of the games we play with identity, by the author of The Bedtrick." --Mary Douglas, author of Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo "Wendy Doniger is a wonderful writer, and when she brings the great film classics (and B-movies) into conversation with world mythology, she reveals unexpected and humanly profound patterns in both the films and the myths that no one has seen before."--Francis Ford Coppola "I couldn't put it down! Buy this book!--Annie Dillard, author of For the Time Being "Doniger energetically tracks the motif of self-imitation across culture and centuries...The book brings into focus a fascinating trope and sketches its importance with an obvious delight that is both stiumulating and not itself unworthy of imitation." --Journal of Religion

Introduction: The Self-Impersonation of Mythologyp. 3
Pre- and Postmodern Narrative Recyclingp. 3
Chronology and Intertextualityp. 6
The Mobius Strip and the Zen Diagramp. 7
The Mythology of Self-Impersonationp. 10
Self-Impersonationp. 10
Self-Impersonation by the Famous and the Literaryp. 12
Nature Imitating Art Imitating Naturep. 15
Playing within the Playp. 18
Virtual Realityp. 20
Acting Out in Politicsp. 23
Ironic Tangosp. 26
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for His Wifep. 28
The Marriage of Udayanap. 29
Ratnavali, The Lady of the Jeweled Necklacep. 29
Priyadarshika, The Woman Who Shows Her Lovep. 32
The Marriage of Figarop. 35
The Self-Replicating Wifep. 37
The Double Amnesia of Siegfried and Brunnhildep. 40
Thidreks Sagap. 41
Volsunga Sagap. 43
Nibelungenliedp. 47
Ibsen's The Vikings at Helgelandp. 51
Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelungp. 52
The Sword in the Bedp. 58
Resurrection and the Comedy of Remarriagep. 64
True and False Accusations and Ordeals of Adulteryp. 64
Sita's Ordeal of Resurrectionp. 65
Resurrected Marriage in Shakespeare: The Winter's Talep. 68
The Self-Replicating Childp. 70
Self-Replicating, Self-Sacrificing Mothersp. 73
Resurrected Marriage in Hollywoodp. 75
My Favorite Wife (1940)p. 76
The Comedy of Remarriage in Hollywoodp. 80
The Awful Truth (1937)p. 81
The Lady Eve (1941)p. 85
Amnesia and the Tragedy of Remarriagep. 90
The Comedy of Amnesiac Remarriagep. 90
The Matrimonial Bed (1930)p. 90
Remember? (1939)p. 92
I Love You Again (1940)p. 92
The Romance of Amnesiac Remarriagep. 93
As You Desire Me (1932)p. 94
Random Harvest (1942)p. 97
Julia Misbehaves (1948), Memory of Love (1948), and Love Letters (1945)p. 107
Reincarnationp. 112
Deja Vu All Over Againp. 112
The Man Who Forgot He Was God: The Monk's Dreamp. 117
The God Who Forgot He Was God: Chandrashekhara and Taravatip. 119
The Romance of Reincarnation in India: The Two Lilasp. 124
The Romance of Reincarnation in Hollywood and Bollywoodp. 126
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)p. 127
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and Chances Are (1989)p. 128
Late for Dinner (1991) and Forever Young (1992)p. 131
Madhumati (1958) and Karz (1980)p. 138
Face-Liftsp. 137
The Aging Wifep. 137
Face-Lifts: The Mythsp. 141
Face-Lifts: The Filmsp. 146
Return from the Ashes (1965)p. 146
Ash Wednesday (1973)p. 147
Face of a Stranger (1979)p. 148
Shattered (1991)p. 149
A Face to Die For (1996)p. 151
Face/Off (1997)p. 152
Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)p. 153
Face-Lifts: The Surgeryp. 157
Mind Liftsp. 163
Murder: Vertigo (1958)p. 163
Black Science: Duplicates (1992) and Dark City (1998)p. 168
Espionage: Total Recall (1990) (and True Lies [1994])p. 174
Masquerading in the Red and the Noirp. 181
Passing: Race and Genderp. 183
Black as White as Blackp. 184
Women Masquerading as Men as Women: Chudalap. 186
The Stage as World: Call Me Rosalindp. 189
The World as Stage: Beaumarchais and the Chevalier d'Eonp. 194
Women Masquerading as Women, Men as Menp. 197
Conclusion: The Zen Diagram of the Selfp. 203
The Truth beneath the Maskp. 203
Appointment in Samsarap. 205
Loopholesp. 207
The Rabbi from Cracowp. 207
Second Naivetep. 209
The Happy Hypocritep. 211
The Deep Surfacep. 213
The Authentic Postmodern Copyp. 214
The Multiplicity of Masksp. 215
Tautological Self-Coincidencep. 219
Hiding in Plain Sightp. 220
The Analyst from Cracowp. 224
The Recursive Cunning of the Unconsciousp. 226
The Mobius Strip Tease of the Selfp. 229
Notesp. 233
Bibliographyp. 253
Indexp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195160161
ISBN-10: 0195160169
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 284
Published: 10th March 2005
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.2  x 2.1
Weight (kg): 0.53