booklady's Reviews > The Eternal Woman: The Timeless Meaning of the Feminine

The Eternal Woman by Gertrud von le Fort
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Sep 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, books-on-books, classic, church-documents, education, non-fiction, philosophy, psychology, spiritual, worth-reading-over-and-over, favorites, women, theology
Read from September 07 to 24, 2011

In the forward to the 1954 edition of Gertrude von le Fort’s classic work on the timeless meaning of the feminine, we are told this work was first published in Germany in 1934. As Hitler was beginning his meteoric rise to power which would change the face of Europe for decades this slim volume on the eternal importance of womanhood to all of humanity also came into being ... sadly overshadowed by those events.

The Eternal Woman looks at Woman and her incalculable value to humanity from the symbolic aspect. As such, it is written using the language of imagery which may present difficulty for some readers. However the interplay of ideas presented by Ms. le Fort is so fascinating, I found myself both thrilled to be a woman and challenged to accept all that is inherent in being female more seriously in the future only regretting I had not encountered this book much sooner in my life.

The author begins with creation and a correct understanding of the story.
‘...it is entirely false to say that Eve fell because she was the weaker. The Bible story clearly shows that she was the stronger and had the ascendancy over man. Man, regarded in his cosmic aspect, stands in the foreground of strength, while woman dwells in the deeper reaches. Whenever woman has been suppressed, it was never because she was weak, but because she was recognized and feared as having power, and with reason; for at the moment when the stronger power no longer desires surrender but seeks self-glorification, a catastrophe is bound to ensue.’ p.13
In the chapter entitled “Woman in Time” she covers the three primary vocations of women—single virginity, marriage and motherhood—and the importance of sanctity to a woman’s ability to fulfill whatever mission she is called to by God.
‘“The holier a woman is, the more she is a woman.” This also is Dante’s meaning in that wondrous passage of his great poem when he looks upon Beatrice while her eyes remain steadfastly fixed upon God. Here Dante does not see the divine in woman, but he sees God because her glance is upon God.’ p.51
“Timeless Woman” is the chapter which concludes the book. These are my favorite selections from it:
‘It is only a motherless time that cries out for a mother, and a deeply unmotherly age that can point to the mother as a demand of the time, for it is precisely the mother who is timeless, the same in all epochs and among all peoples.’ p.67

‘The increased possibility of preserving the life of the child is paralleled by the equally increased possibility of preventing or even removing the child.’ p.71

‘The recognition of the fact that there is no right on the part of the woman to a child, but only a right of the child to a mother, corresponds to the recognition of another fact that is pertinent to the present, namely, that there is in the world no woman’s right, so called to a profession or vocation, but the world has a child’s right to the woman… There is nothing that denotes the condition of the world today more profoundly and tragically than the complete absence of the maternal attitude of mind.’ p.88
I don’t expect this to be a very popular review with some, but that’s okay. I stand with all the voiceless and motherless ones. How many times have I said to my own daughters that I would be the mother to the world if I could...?

‘God created mankind in his image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them…’ (Genesis 1:27-28)
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03/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher Very good review, booklady, thanks for pointing this one out as I'd not heard of it :)


message 2: by SiSApis (new) - added it

SiSApis I have been trying to find a hardcover copy of this book to add to my home library; does anybody know where one might find one?


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