Tragic Beauty

I seem to be on a run about books right now and here is another. I was asked if I would be willing to read and review a new book about the Aphrodite woman. The title alone was enough to attract me, so I agreed and I am happy to say that was a good decision.

Today I want to recommend Tragic Beauty: The Dark Side of Venus Aphrodite and the Loss and Regeneration of Soul by Arlene Landau. Landau is a Jungian analyst and self-identified Aphrodite woman.

We were assigned roommates when I started college. Though we filled out questionnaires that supposedly were used in pairing us, I never saw any evidence that mine had any bearing on who was chosen. We had exchanged letters during the summer, but not photos. She had said of herself that she was blonde and average looking. I walked into our room that first day and was amazed to see a beautiful young woman, golden and graceful. I could witness her power though I had no name for it nor any idea where it came from. In the face of her beauty, I felt plain and invisible. Certainly that golden aura and the way the young men on campus fell all over themselves to meet her and go out with her created a distance between us that we never managed to bridge.

As a Jungian, I have had opportunities over the years to learn more about this archetype and still she is a mystery. Arlene Landau's beautifully written book offers the clearest exploration of the Aphrodite woman I have read. Use of case material and examples from popular culture create a vivid portrait of the gifts and the dark side of the Aphrodite woman. I only wish the book were longer as I would love to know Landau's thoughts about the envy other women often feel for these "golden ones", envy I myself felt from time to time as I watched my freshman roommate move so effortlessly through the social scene.

Tragic Beauty is deep enough to be meaningful to therapists and analysts and accessible as well to laypeople. Her examination of the images of the Rosarium Philosophorum is the clearest I have read anywhere. This slender volume holds something of interest for anyone interested in goddesses among us and/or Jungian psychology. 

Note: though I was sent a copy of the book to read and review, I have no other financial or professional association with it, the publisher or author.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.