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The Mirror a History

by Sabine Melchior-Bonnet

  • ISBN: 9780415924474
  • ISBN10: 0415924472

The Mirror a History

by Sabine Melchior-Bonnet

  • List Price: $160.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Publish date: 12/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780415924474
  • ISBN10: 0415924472
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Description: This engaging and witty cultural history traces the evolution of the mirror from antiquity to the present day, illustrating its journey from wondrous object to ordinary trinket. With its earliest invention, the mirror allowed us to gaze upon ourselves, bestowing a power both fascinating and terrifying. The classical myth of Narcissus warned of the dangers of self-reflection, while during the Middle Ages the mirror became associated with the soul and the seductions of the devil. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries did the mirror achieve true renown, reflecting brilliant light into the court of the Sun King and the parlor of Madame Pompadour. As science triumphed over art, the mirror lost some of its magical appeal, later restored with its role as metaphor for altered states of consciousness in Lewis Carroll's looking glass and Lacan's "mirror stage".

Drawing on rich sources of history, literature, art and philosophy, Melchior-Bonnet recounts the story of the mirror as one of discovery and invention, commerce and intrigue. Through the works of such writers as Dante, St. Augustine, Flaubert, and Henry James, and its representations in the works of artists like Durer, Van Eyck, Leonardo, and Magritte, the author reveals our enduring fascination with reflection, the image that is at once the same, and not the same, as ourselves.

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