The best books on Antigone and feminist ethics

Who am I?

I’ve always searched for personalities – mythological, literary, or real – affirming the highest ethical claims for justice. Sophocles’s Antigone is, without doubt, the preeminent example of this ethical demand, based on ancient unwritten laws and related demands for human dignity. As a woman, Antigone also presents the forgotten and suppressed orders of femininity, which were present in all archaic religions and mythologies, but later repressed and fully replaced with exclusively male Gods. I’m therefore interested in books that guide us in this search for the power of ethics and femininity and hope this list will give you an idea of the rich ethical potentials that we possess.  


I wrote...

Antigone's Sisters

By Lenart Škof,

Book cover of Antigone's Sisters

What is my book about?

An original and innovative exploration of Antigone, femininity, and love. In Antigone’s Sisters, Lenart Škof explores the power of love in our world—stronger than violence and stronger even than death. Focusing on Antigone, Savitri, and Mary, the book offers an investigation into various goddesses and feminine figures from a variety of philosophical, mythological, theological, and literary contexts. 

Drawing on Bracha M. Ettinger’s concept of matrixiality, Škof proposes a new matrixial theory of philosophy and theology of love. With its new interpretation of Antigone and related readings of Irigaray, Kristeva, and Ettinger, Antigone’s Sisters aims to identify some of the reasons for this forgetting of love and to show that it is only love that can bring peace to our ethically disrupted world.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism

By S.E. Wilmer (editor), Audrone Zukauskaite (editor),

Book cover of Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism

Why this book?

This excellent collection of essays brings some of the key readings of Sophocles’ Antigone in an ethical and feminist key. It includes, among others, interpretations by Tina Chanter, Luce Irigaray, and Bracha L. Ettinger. In the fascinating lineup of chapters, the book guides us through political, psychoanalytical, and sexual genealogies and classical interpretations of this Greek myth, thus providing the authoritative scholarship on a female figure of Antigone.  


In the Beginning, She Was

By Luce Irigaray,

Book cover of In the Beginning, She Was

Why this book?

Luce Irigaray’s book includes her powerful interpretation of Antigone but also brings a mature account of her on the role of the feminine within Western thought. In the Beginning, She Was, Irigaray guides us back to the Presocratics in order to reinstate the Goddess which was absent in the Western philosophical and religious discourses until the 20th century.       


Feminist Readings of Antigone

By Fanny Soderback (editor),

Book cover of Feminist Readings of Antigone

Why this book?

This book is a fascinating collection of essays on Antigone, written by key contemporary thinkers, such as Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, Bracha L. Ettinger, and Adriana Cavarero. Hegel daringly compared Antigone to Socrates and Jesus and this book shows the full range of ethical questions and consequences, related to Antigone and her highest ethical demand. Through this book, the fictitious woman from Sophocles’ drama written 2,500 years ago, incarnates in front of us as a living figure of contemporary feminine ethics.


The Matrixial Borderspace

By Bracha Ettinger,

Book cover of The Matrixial Borderspace

Why this book?

In her work, Bracha L. Ettinger proposes to depart in our thinking from a difference that is feminine and argues for the “matrixial” sphere as a corporeal locus that incarnates in our various human becomings toward the other – such as through compassion or empathy. This book has a Foreword written by Judith Butler and navigates through some of the key phenomena in ethics of femininity, including the original Ettingerian concept of prematernal and prenatal compassion.


Antigone

By Jean Anouilh,

Book cover of Antigone

Why this book?

Jean Anouilh wrote his Antigone during WW2 and it was first performed in 1944 in occupied Paris. This book is one of the most powerful interpretations of the Greek myth of Antigone and her unsurpassable ethical deed. The statement of Anouilh’s Antigone – to say “No!” to whatever she would not be willing to affirm, is the sign of an ultimate and universal ethical demand for justice. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in feminism, 20th century, and politics?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about feminism, 20th century, and politics.

Feminism Explore 160 books about feminism
20th Century Explore 706 books about 20th century
Politics Explore 313 books about politics

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Cassandra Speaks: When Women Are the Storytellers, the Human Story Changes, Decolonizing Feminisms: Race, Gender & Empire Building, and They Didn't See Us Coming: The Hidden History of Feminism in the Nineties if you like this list.