Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from Around the World

Marina Warner writes: Schipper’s patient accumulation of proverbs about women from all over the world makes grim reading. Her endeavours extend the research of first-wave feminism into the axioms defining the secondariness of the second sex. She has adopted a macrocosmic comparative method, rather than focusing on one social organisation, cultural system or literary lineage. Maxims from ancient Sumer, found on clay tablets near Baghdad in 1963, jostle Ghanaian proverbs collected by Schipper from Peggy Appiah and her son Kwame Anthony Appiah; Persian mottoes are lined up beside Brazilian, Finnish, Irish and Creole ones, as well as numerous examples from different African regions and groupings.

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