2nd out of 30 books — 11 voters
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Saint Joan of Arc
Vita Slackville-West, one of the great writers of the century, tells one of the msot extraordinary tales of history with a brillance attuned to the religious and feministic implications of Joan's tragic life. Relying on the detailed historical records from her trial, Sackville-West reconstructs the scenes of the story: the slow growth of Joan's convictions, the great victo ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 1st 1991 by Image
(first published 1936)
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A well thought out biography of a mysterious figure in history. Joan of Arc is half religious figure, half historical personality. When writing such a biography it is difficult for an author to walk the line between stating purely factual information and not offending those who view the figure in religious terms. The author states both cases by discussing her miracles and offering plausible but difficult to prove theories on how those miracles could have been performed in more secular terms.
Sep 07, 2010 Margaret rated it liked it · review of another edition
This is a sympathetic and well-written account, though occasionally more opinionated and less objective than I'd like. However, I've read several reviews which point out misrepresentations and mistakes in Sackville-West's citing of the evidence. I think I'd like to read Marina Warner's book on Joan of Arc, which seems generally better reviewed.
Joan of Arc is one of the few saints that most people have heard about, but may not know much about except that she was burned at the stake as a heretic. The poet and novelist Vita (Victoria) Sackville-West, a published poet at 14, writes with style and verve about this remarkable young woman, and her remarkable life and death. In some respects the book asks as many questions as it answers. Sackville-West leaves open the question of whether Joan was a saint, but there is no doubt she was an amaz ...more
Although this book has a lively writing style, historians have criticized it for its many erroneous claims, especially the implication that Joan of Arc was a lesbian and the explicit claim that she had an "unattractive", mannish appearance. Both of these claims have been debunked thoroughly by historians. Wikipedia has a good summary at: St. Joan of Arc by Sackville-West
I had some trouble getting into it, as it starts out a little slow and very "academic." But after about 40 pages, I was captivated and read it in about 3 days. It is amazing how many actual accounts they have regarding the 19 years of life of this peasant girl instructed by saints to intervene in french history. I also love the writing of Sackville-West who employs incredible humor, insight and personal opinion into her books, daring to reveal her own thoughts and conclusions. She also provided ...more
Vita Sackville-West's scholarship is extensive and presented joyfully--although it's been challenged by later scholars--but the greatest value I took from this book was her application of the novelist's aptitude for character to Joan, whose character was in many ways the great miracle. Also, Sackville-West's prose is delicious.
Aug 21, 2007 Caryn Hederman rated it liked it · review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Joan of Arc
Biography. Vita Sackville West unabashedly moons over Joan of Arc in this biography, but the book is a fun, easy, reverent read for those interested in a breezy Joan bio. Brush up on your French before reading it, as the author sprinkles her writing with untranslated French passages.
Vita Sackville-West was a prolific author, poet and memoirist in early 20th-Century Britain who is known not only for her writing, but for her not-so-private, private life. While married to the diplomat Harold Nicolson, she conducted a series of scandalous amorous liaisons with many women, including the brilliant Virginia Woolf. They had an open marriage. Both Sackville-West and her husband had sa ...moreMore about Vita Sackville-West...