Shannon Burns reviews 'The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc' by Ali Alizadeh

Shannon Burns reviews 'The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc' by Ali Alizadeh

The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc

by Ali Alizadeh

Giramondo $26.95 pb, 279 pp, 9781925336405

The many gaps in the verifiable history of Jeanne d’Arc’s early years in rural France, as well as her improbable rise to prominence and martyrdom, have left room for a considerable amount of speculation and projection over the centuries. There is no shortage of fictional or historical accounts of her life, or ways of characterising the Maid’s struggle, but with The Last Days of Jeanne d’Arc Ali Alizadeh breathes fresh life into a story that has been retold and re-contextualised over and again.

Alizadeh’s approach hinges on one of the primary gestures of historical fiction. The narrator notes that, ‘Everyone thinks everything has been written about, has been repeated ad infinitum, and there’s nothing left to excavate ...’ before highlighting the contested and unknown elements of Jeanne d’Arc’s legend. In Alizadeh’s account, Jeanne’s miraculous personal and military feats have as much to do with a need for personal liberation from constraints pertaining to her gender, and the nature of her desires, as the need to liberate France from the rule of its English despoilers. While many around her are motivated by the enemy’s cruelty, Jeanne hopes to win the spiritual right to be her true self.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns

Shannon Burns is a freelance writer and member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice. He is a former ABR Patrons' Fellow, and has published short fiction, poetry, and academic articles.

Published in October 2017, no. 395

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.