8.12.2009

Infamous Women

I've always had a desire to live in another time period, sometimes in the 40's based on the feminine silhouettes and war time romances other times the 20's for the rebellious party scenes and elusive flapper hemlines. I guess I've carried this idea that those were simpler times, less technology and invasion of information bombarding an imagination.

But then I think, were times ever really that simple?

After reading little snippets from a period based book that my sister found at Goodwill, I'm reminded that those historic times were in fact not so simple and perhaps even a little bit harder. The book is called Infamous Women and it's a paper doll coloring book full of heinous empresses and sultry women that used there power for evil. In it are plenty of tales about selfish women that would kill there husbands, there siblings, even there own children to get to the throne. It made it seem like more of a curse to be born into royal blood rather than an honor, no one was safe and no one could trust.

Infamous Women Paper Doll Coloring Book

There were however two women who weren't so bad. Their crimes of infidelity and treason seem to pale in comparison to the act of murder.

The first to grab my attention was George Sand, a French Romantic writer who indulged in one wispy affair after the other speaking out against the treatment of women in the household. Sand hated how women were forced to live an impeccable life full of exploitation and mockery. Her crimes seem less shocking now than they did a hundred years ago but at the time she scandalized the men around her and rebelled from the ways of the law. She dressed in men's clothes, smoked cigarettes like a man, and lived a successful life like a man on her own earnings. Sand was a hopeless romantic always finding new love and always searching for some distance from her peers.

Compared to the other ladies, Sand was a doll. While I don't condone infidelity I think she was a woman ahead of her time searching for equality and demanding it in her own right.


George Sand
1804-1876

Infamous Women: George Sand





The second of the two is Mata Hari, a Dutch dancer who seduced many men by stripping down and forging tales of a secret life as a German spy. She was a cunning woman and a definite threat to the French at the time, so as a result of her claims she was imprisoned. Convinced she was guilty on October 15, 1917 seven military men condemned her to pay the cost of her investigation and trial with her possessions and sentenced her to death. She was shot a dawn in Vincennes declining to be blind-folded or tied to a post.
Her name became a synonym for infamous vices when in fact she probably never was a spy at all. Her gift for manufacturing romantic stories about herself essentially led to her career and her death.

After doing a little google searching, I discovered the 1931 film, Mata Hari starring Greta Garbo, Lionel Barrymore, and Ramon Navarro. Now I feel silly for not knowing her already.

Mata Hari
1876-1917

Infamous Women: Mata Hari



5 comments:

eithlinn said...

George Sand part of your post reminded me of a film I watched years ago, "Les enfants du si├Ęcle"-"Children of the century"-It was a French film about George sand , mainly focusing on her relationship with Alfred de Musset.It was starring Julliette Binoche.

I have always been fond of reading biographies, in fact most of the time they prove to be much more interesting than fiction!

I wonder if the book features Elizabeth Bathory too? Recently an (again French) film came on show in cinemas here about her.I couldn't go to watch because I felt it might be too gory for me.

I had heard about Mata Hari from my mom when I was a child but yep, she doesn't seem to be talked about much for a long time.

That was a nice post, I always appreciate posts about interesting women from the past!

Aya Smith said...

What a fabulous post! Mata was very lovely, wasn't she...!

hannah said...

that sounds like a fascinating book! mata hari is so intriguing!

caramelizedvintage said...

Thanks for sharing! It's always interesting to read about characters in history that help shed reality on things. And the paper dolls are lovely!

A Thought Is The Blossom said...

Eithlinn-
I looked up Elizabeth Bathory but she wasn't in the book, I'm gonna do a little research myself though just out of curiosity. I'm with you, biographies are way more intriguing than fiction. I could watch the history channel for days and days and never get tired of it!