Over Her Dead Body
Death, Femininity and the Aesthetic
In 1846, Edgar Allen Poe wrote that 'the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetic topic in the world'. The conjuction of death, art and femininity forms a rich and disturbing strata of Western culture, explored here in fascinating detail by Elisabeth Bronfen. Her examples range from Carmen to Little Nell, from Wuthering Heights to Vertigo, from Snow White to Frankenstein. The text is richly illustrated throughout with thirty-seven paintings and photographs. The argument that this book presents is that narrative and visual representations of death can be read as symptoms of our culture and because the feminine body is culturally constructed as the superlative site of "other" and "not me", culture uses art to dream the deaths of beautiful women.
Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich