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Saint Joan of Arc
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Saint Joan of Arc

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  143 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
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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Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
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.
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.
Shirley Brown
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: delete
I found this book interesting, but not compelling. I learned more of Joan's life, but found the writing laborous and rather dull.
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara Carlson
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Magistri Scholares
Aug 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Theodore McCombs
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
K.D. McQuain
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
An interesting a well written biography with a good amount of background information about the political climate of the time. I enjoyed reading it and keep it on my shelf, so I will likely reread it at some point.
Caryn Hederman
Aug 20, 2007 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.
Ron Stafford
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very strange take on St. Joan
Jan 25, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: biography, wishlist
Mentioned in The Princessa: Machiavelli for Women by Harriet Rubin.
Mills College Library
944.02609 S1219 2001
Ellen Falls
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and beautiful. I will re-read this at some point.
Carole Brooks Platt
Nov 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I was interested in this book because Vita Sackville-West is considered an important writer and was a friend of Virginia Woolf. There is a blurb on the cover by the New York Times saying: Vita Sackville-West has written the biography of St. Joan of Arc . . . with a beauty and reverence from which the last grain of sentimentality has been refined away. The result is pure gold."

I don't dispute that Vita Sackville-West is an accomplished writer, showing more "style" than any of the other authors I
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeanne d'Arc emerges as a vivid and courageous character in Sackville-West's thoughtful biography. For a Medieval figure, we know a remarkable amount about Jeanne's life, particularly during the time she spent in combat, even down to what she ate. Sackville-West sifts through the historical sources to give us a balanced and thorough account of Jeanne's life, from her birth to her death following her excommunication. The political world into which Jeanne was thrust her is complex and cut-throat, ...more
Joe A
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author, V. Sackville-West is obviously fascinated by the saint and her short life. 19 years between birth and a horrible death (burned as heretic). Some effort was made to “set the background” of France at the time (The Hundred Years’ War and the confusing multiple claims to kingship). But his time and effort were justifiably short and inadequate.
As saints go, Joan unique. No “softness “or overt “piety” thru her short life or since her Canonization some 489 years after her death. The Patron
Stephen David
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
A truly remarkable, and dramatic rendering of an enigmatic saint. Regine Pernod may capture the details of Jeanne's remarkable career with his beloved and really French biography, but Vita West brings Jeanne de Arc to life with candor and a respect for Jeanne's devotion.
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K.P.B. Stevens
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May 21, 2011
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Jen Saunders
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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 ...more
More about Vita Sackville-West...