Blue Mythologies: Reflections on a Colour

Author(s): Carol Mavor


The sea, the sky, the veins of the hands, the earth itself when photographed from space; blue sometimes seems to overwhelm all the other shades of our world in its all-encompassing presence. Blue Mythologies: Reflections on a Colour presents a series of explorations of the colour blue, echoing Roland Barthes' 'Mythologies' essays. The blues of Blue Mythologies include science, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Slavery, gender, sex, ornithology, the literary past, and contemporary film. The engaging and elegiac readings are at once sociological, literary, historical and visual, taking the reader from the blue of a new-born baby's eyes to the films of Jarman and Kieslowski. Blue as the colour of death, as Vishnu's skin, the colour of optimism, heaven, asphyxiation, depression, the blues, innocence, even blue cheese: in each example Mavor unpicks meaning both above and below the surface of culture and makes us question our relationship with blue. Richly illustrated, Blue Mythologies is a fresh and contemplative navigation of the meanings and mythologies surrounding this most familiar and paradoxical of colours.


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Carol Mavor is Professor of Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester. Her previous books include Reading Boyishly (2007) and Black and Blue (2012).

1. Everything is blue 2. Blue is joyful-sad 3. Unwrapping Blue Boy 4. One cat, four girls, three blue and white pots: Walpole's 'Selima' and Sargent's Daughters of Edward Darley Boit 5. 'A thing of Beauty is a guilt for ever' 6. Milk and sugar are blue 7. Timber, timbre: hearing blue again 8. A bolt from the blue 9. Cyanoclasm 10. Like a stocking: two paths of metaphor and metonymy 11. Blue lessons: a Patch of Blue, a blue cardigan buttoned and a robin's egg 12. To blue: Helen Chadwick's Oval Court 13. 'A foggy lullaby' 14. Words fail 15. A blue fawn's eye 16. Blue Albertine and Blue Ariane: (Marcel Proust and Chantal Akerman) 17. A blue lollipop (Krysztof Kieslowski) 18. 'O blue' 19. Venice is a wet map 20. Domestic blues: Agnes Varda's Le Bonheur 21. Aran is a blue place where it is hard to find anything missing 22. In Lieu of a Blue Ending: Un-Knitting a Cerulean Jumper

General Fields

  • : 9781780230832
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : March 2013
  • : 234mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : June 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Carol Mavor
  • : Hardback
  • : 701.85
  • : 224
  • : Colour and black & white