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316Philosophy and Literature regards it as sufficient simply to point out that there are statements in the Cours which conflict widi it (pp. 222-23). On die Cours itself, Harris offers useful detailed criticism. But as a critic of "Saussurean linguistics" in the wide sense he fails, because of his question-begging insistence that all "Saussureans" (both structuralists and generativists) must remain faithful to Saussure and Saussure's mistakes. University of Canterbury, New ZealandAndrew Carstairs Tragic Ways ofKilling a Woman, by Nicole Loraux; translated by Andiony Forster; xi & 100 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987, $17.95. In The Invention ofAthens, Nicole Loraux studied Adiens' representation of itself dirough the ideologically normative genre of the funeral oration. In her new book, she turns to a medium that was no less public, but in which transgressions of essential structures were regularly represented—Greek tragedy—and investigates representations of women through the ways they die in the plays. Women in tragedy speak, act, and suffer publicly, and they can die violendy, as they did not in actual Adienian life. But although tragedy confuses the distinction between male and female, Loraux argues, the difference is always affirmed in die discourse diat she finds "under the surface of speech." Even die glory that some women earn (and diat only in death) can be described solely in the vocabulary of male honor. Whereas men ideally die by the sword on the batdefield, the typical death for a married woman in tragedy is suicide, by hanging, in the marriage chamber. In this way she controls her death; but the noose serves as an emblem of (female) cunning, and the bedroom affirms her connection with marriage. Unlike men, who never hang themselves, women do have a choice, and some steal the men's way of death by stabbing themselves. But, in any case, they are viewed as fulfilling their marriages only in deadi. Virgins, on the other hand, die in tragedy by being sacrificed, their throats cut. Loraux has fascinating things to say about the texts' attempts to resolve the anomaly ofhuman sacrifice by describing these girls dirough animal metaphors, about marriage and sacrifice as reversible metaphors for each other, about the deathblow as a deflowering , and about Euripides' presentation ofthese "victims" as people who choose their deaths freely and with courage. Finally, Loraux maps the difference between male and female ways ofdeathon the human body. Homerand tragedy Reviews317 present the male body as diversified, and it can receive fatal wounds in various places. Conversely, in tragedy women regularly, and men never, die ofwounds to the throat. It is a sign of the subdety and richness of this short book that readers will want to question it. Loraux might, for instance, have explored further, but offers a fine way of thinking about, the suicide of Deianira in Sophocles' 7Vachiniae , who, as Loraux notes, stabs herself in the side like a man, but on her marriage bed and in the left (according to Loraux, feminine) side though supposedly in the liver. But the side in this play, as Loraux remarks only in a note, also has clear erotic associations. This death needs to be seen in relation to that of Heracles, which is "feminized" in ways symmetrical to the ways Deianira's death is made "masculine." The audience sees him on a litter, the counterpart to the marriage bed, in an agony not from a wound but from the poisoned robe that clings to his sides. We would also have to consider their son, Hyllus, who embraces his mother's corpse, laying his side against hers, and from whom Heracles extorts a promise to marry Iole, "lest any other man take her, who has lain by my sides." The text may gesture finally toward a discourse of male control, but only after much more gender—and generational—confusion than Loraux suggests. Again, Loraux's claim that a Greek tragedy is "a text and nothing but a text" is perhaps reductive and blurs the distinctiveness of her point about female deaths. These always take place "off-stage" (whereas Sophocles' Ajax kills himself in the audience's sight) and reach the audience dirough messenger's reports. These narratives offer rich though...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 316-317
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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