From Shakuntala to Scheherazade to Marilyn Monroe, from Ancient India and Greece to Medieval Europe to modern cinema, sexual desire and jewelry, particularly rings, have been very often connected. Why do jewels keep appearing in stories about marriage and adultery, love and betrayal, loss and recovery, identity and masquerade? What is the mythology that makes finger rings symbols of true (or, as the case may be, untrue) love across the world?
Wendy Doniger’s new book offers a riveting cross-cultural history of jewelry and its role in seduction, romance and infidelity. Few writers could begin with personal family anecdotes, shift to Sanskrit and Greek epics and the plays of Kalidasa and Shakespeare, make detours into fairy tales and folklore, return to Hollywood films and modern pop songs and still maintain a coherent, illuminating and supremely entertaining discussion. Yet that is precisely what Wendy Doniger accomplishes in this lively and penetrating examination of the enduring power of myth as revealed through stories about jewels, sex and clever women. The Ring of Truth, like all of Wendy Doniger’s books, is an astonishing and hugely satisfying work of scholarship rendered in compulsively readable prose.