The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

November 20, 2016

November 20, 1940

The scholarship of Wendy Doniger (November 20, 1940) has been summarized this way:

Doniger's work focuses primarily on the comparative historical study of religious mythology and its social and cultural meanings, with particular reference to gender relations, and on the history and culture of Hinduism, on which she is acknowledged to be among the greatest contemporary authorities. Her most important works include
Women, Androgynes, and Other Mythical Beasts (1980), Dreams, Illusions, and Other Realities (1984), Tales of Sex and Violence: Folklore, Sacrifice and Danger in the Jaimaniya Brahmana (1985), Other People's Myths: The Cave of Echoes (1988), The Implied Spider: Politics and) Theology in Myth(1998), Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India (1999), and The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade (2000). She edited a number of important collections, including Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts (1993), Off With Her Head! The Denial of Woment's Identity in Myth, Religion, and Culture (1995, with Howard Eilberg-Schwartz), and Myth and Method (1996, with Laurie L. Patton), and also published translations of culturally significant texts, including The Rig Veda: An Anthology (1981), the Oresteia (1989), and the Kamasutra (2002, with Sudhir Kakar), as well as Mythologies (1991), a translation of Yves Bonnefoy's landmark Dictionnaire des Mythologies....

DONIGER (O'FLAHERTY), WENDY (1940– ), U.S. scholar of the history of religion. Born in New York City, educated at Radcliffe College (B.A., 1962), Harvard (M.A., 1963; Ph.D., 1968) and Oxford (D.Phil., 1973), Doniger taught at Harvard, the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London (1968–75), the University of California, Berkeley (1975–77), and the University of Chicago (from 1978), where from 1986 she was Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the Divinity School. She also held an appointment in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and was a member of the university's Committees on Social Thought and the Ancient Mediterranean World.

Her book The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth (1998) includes an excursion on the old proverb: All Cats are Grey in the Dark, which she cites as "Gallic" saying Erasmus mentions it. She sorts out racist and sexist connotations in the variations on this picture. The variations are numerous.  She quotes Ernest Geller, and his critique of Marxism:

"What is Marxism. It is trying to catch a very small black cat in a very large entirely dark room when it is not there, and pretending that one has caught it and knows all about it."

When Doniger was finishing a dissertation at Oxford University, in 1973, R. C. Zaehner oversaw her work.

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