JOAN OF ARC by Edward Lucie-Smith

JOAN OF ARC

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Promising something more extensive and original than it delivers, this study seeks to surpass mere chronologies of Jeanne la Pucelle's life while eschewing any ""theories"" about her. Instead, Lucie-Smith's ""aim has been to listen to all the witnesses"" and reach ""a convincing portrait."" He produces a linear, detached account of Joan's life which sometimes indicates and tries to reconcile conflicting accounts, with much explanation of small incidents and little of major ones like her military reverses or the circumstances of the ""Rehabilitation Trail"" of the 1450s from which much testimony is taken. At the same time, abandoning his second pledge, Lucie-Smith (best known as a prolific literary critic) freely indulges a bias against the possibility of potent womanhood. Latent incestuous impulses toward father and brother are posited; when Joan rebukes a guard for insulting her, ""The dangers of sex were still stirring in Joan's mind""; and her ""transvestitism"" is taken more as an expression of ""vanity"" or menstrual conflict than as an operational choice. The book nevertheless includes enough accounts from eyewitnesses and chroniclers to indicate that Joan was an astute leader with a sense of humor and a devoutness explicitly opposed to superstition or sheer mysticism; she was able to win the support of canny nobles as well as the erratic Charles VII and the previously war-dazed peasantry. For some readers, this aspect may be worth the annoyance of Lucie-Smith's glosses.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1977
Publisher: Norton