This volume deals with the enduring presence of one of Western culture's most fascinating and influential figures in ancient, modern, and postmodern art and literature: Venus/Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. The collection, which is the first of its kind, seeks to explore Venus's significance as a figure of beauty and creativity across cultures and disciplines, engaging a range of media, theoretical approaches, and cultural perspectives. Thirteen international scholars—including Elisabeth Bronfen, Tom Conley, Laurence Rickels, and Barbara Vinken—illuminate Venus's lasting value as a multifaceted figure of the creative in Western culture, from Lucretius to Michel Serres.

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Review Quotes

“The strength of the collection is its emphasis on historical continuity: Western culture, it seems, frequently drawing on Oriental models, has always had need of a love goddess. She has just taken different forms as social contexts have evolved down the last two millennia.”
- Julian Preece, Swansea University, in Modern Language Review , vol. 111.2 2016, pp. 534-535

Table of contents

Contents

Introduction

GÜNTER BLAMBERGER
Venus as Muse. A Contradictory Thought-Image? 9
SEBASTIAN GOTH
Venus Anadyomene. The Birth of Art 15
ELIZABETH ASMIS
Venus and the Passion for Renewal in Lucretius’s On the Nature
of Things 41

Visual & Performing Arts

JENNIFER SHAW
The Figure of Venus. Rhetoric of the Ideal from Cabanel to
Claude Cahun 57
JEANETTE KOHL
Intra-Venus 73

Literature

SEBASTIAN GOTH
Venus as Muse. Toward a Poetics of Lust 121
RUDOLF DRUX
“The Most Blessed Goddess” Venus as the ‘Ally’ of the Poet (in)
Heinrich Heine 149
TOM CONLEY
Venus Backwards. From Rimbaud to Ronsard 163
BARBARA VINKEN
Nana: Venus a rebours. Paris of the Second Empire as the Return
of Rome and Babylon 173
HANJO BERRESSEM
The Transit of Venus 199

Film, Media, Theory

LAURENCE RICKELS
Venus Barbata 221
ELISABETH BRONFEN
Cleopatra’s Venus 235
COLIN GARDNER
Samuel Beckett’s ‘Peephole’ Venus. Re-Sexualization,
The Oral Mother, and the Masochist Contract in Eh Joe,
Ghost Trio, and …but the clouds… 251
PATRICIA MACCORMACK
Venusian Ecosophy 265

Contributors 281

Readership

This book's scope covers the following fields of interest: cultural and gender studies, the figure of Venus in various media, aesthetic theory (e.g. the Muses, the Beautiful) and cultural figurations, as well as continental philosophy (e.g. Lucretius, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Serres), and will thus make it an important reference text for students, scholars, and lay persons (e.g. artists, non-academic intellectuals).

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