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The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus

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3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  25,181 Ratings  ·  2,464 Reviews
In Homer’s account in The Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife, her story a salutary lesson through the ages. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes off to fight in the Trojan war after the abduction of Helen, Penelope manages, in the face of scandalous rumours, to maintain ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged, 4 pages
Published October 21st 2005 by Brilliance Audio (first published 2005)
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El Wrang! Sure you don't NEED to know every single little detail but in the end, being familiar with the Odyssey and Greek Mythology in general will…moreWrang! Sure you don't NEED to know every single little detail but in the end, being familiar with the Odyssey and Greek Mythology in general will greatly enhance your read. Even if you just peruse through wikipedia pages for an hour.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ana
 photo 31b75d35cd12016269b32e1c60298c24_zpso5tfknmh.jpg

“The two of us were now proficient and shameless liars of long standing. It’s a wonder either one of us believed a word the other said. But we did. Or so we told each other.”

Brilliant. The Penelopiad is a refreshing new spin on this old myth.
Riku Sayuj
The Penelopiad or The Ballad of the Dead Maids

This has been my introduction to Atwood and I have to admit that I feel slightly underwhelmed. I went in with high expectations, wondering how Atwood will take the 'waiting widow' of The Odyssey and transform it into a full length novel. Turns out that she mostly indulges in recapitulating the bulk of the original with a few wild theories and speculations thrown in as supposed rumors that Penelope has gleaned in the after-life.

Which brings me to how
...more
Madeline
Often I amuse myself by trying to imagine the ideas, conversations, or circumstances that led to the writing of certain books. For example, I think Philippa Gregory wrote The Other Boleyn Girl because she wanted to write a smutty romance novel disguised as history, Shakespeare probably wrote The Taming of the Shrew because someone bet him he couldn't write a play where domestic abuse is interpreted as matrimonial devotion, and Bette Green wrote Summer of My German Soldier specifically to torture ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
The Greatness Syndrome: when a book is so original, thought-provoking and fantastically written that there is nothing to say about it.



Mike
In the pantheon of great Greek works the Odyssey certainly ranks among the most well known. The adventures of Odysseus as he tries to win his way home from the successful Trojan War, a war that had already kept him from home for ten years. Well, after another ten years of various adventures and misadventures he finally makes it home to Ithaca only to find his loyal wife, Penelope, beset by opportunistic suitors drinking his wine and eating his livestock. Yada yada yada, he and his son kill all t ...more
Rowena
Jul 26, 2012 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canada, mythology, atwood
This was so beautifully written. As someone who's fairly familiar with the myth of Penelope and Odysseus, it was quite fascinating to see how a modern-day writer would spin the story. Atwood did this brilliantly. I love stories that write from the perspective of the main character, especially when the said character is looking back in hindsight.Very creative.
Elizabeth
I'm a sucker for Odysseus, as many of you know (once I finish gawain's daughter, I'm planning on writing the Telemakhiad, for example), so I appreciate that this doesn't make him a villian, a wife-beater or somesuch.

There are some excellent moments -- the opening line is brilliant ('Now that I'm dead I know everything'); and the wordplay throughout is superb; the 'gilded blood pudding' simile (trust me, it's good); the relationship between the maids and Telemakhos (although she doesn't expand up
...more
BrokenTune
Oct 29, 2015 BrokenTune rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The Penelopiad is another installment of the Canongate Myths Series.

In this installment, Margaret Atwood turns her hand to the story of Odysseus and tells the story of The Odyssey and The Iliad from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus' wife.

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to read an Atwood version of Homer's anthem to heroism, it was fun. I read this whilst waiting at the garage. Apparently, my chuckling along persuaded the elderly gentleman next to me to co-read while waiting
...more
Anna [Floanne]
Voto: 4.5 stelle

"Ora che sono morta so tutto". Così comincia questo breve romanzo in cui Margaret Atwood riscrive magistralmente il mito del ritorno di Odisseo nella sua Itaca. A parlare, però, questa volta è una voce femminile, Penelope, che finalmente libera dal timore di una punizione divina, può raccontare la sua storia e la sua verità e affrancarsi da quell'iconografia che da millenni la ritrae solo come moglie fedele e madre devota. Penelope ci racconta tutta la sua vita: dalle origini,
...more
Amy | shoutame
Apr 29, 2015 Amy | shoutame rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I read this one on the recommendation of the lovely Jean at Bookishthoughts and thoroughly enjoyed it!

- So this is a modern retelling of the story of Penelope and Odysseus which can be found in Homer's account in The Odyssey. Penelope and Odysseus are well known and their story is one that has been told many times - this time however we delve much deeper and Margaret Atwood shares the tale of Penelope and her aspiring suitors plus that of the twelve handmaids whom Odysseus executed upon his retu
...more
Sawsan
Apr 01, 2016 Sawsan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
تُعيد مرجريت آتوود سرد حكاية من حكايات الأساطير اليونانية القديمة
حكاية بينيلوبي زوجة أوديسيوس بطل ملحمة الأوديسة لهوميروس, والتي انتظرت زوجها الغائب لمدة عشرين عام
تحكي بينولوبي من عالم الموتى عن حياتها قبل وبعد الزواج وعلاقتها بأهلها وزوجها وفترة انتظاره الطويلة
وبين فصول الرواية تعرض آتوود حياة خادمات القصور-اللي بيعيشوا حياة بائسة ويعانوا من معاملة السادة - لتحقيق العدالة للخادمات اللاتي قتلهن أوديسيوس بعد عودته
وجهة نظر جديدة لقصة قديمة ومشهورة, ومحاولة لمعرفة الحقيقة
فالجهل بالتفاصيل أو إخفاءه
...more
David Lentz
I was intrigued to read a woman's point of view focused upon one of the great heroines of Homer's "Odyssey" in Penelope. Homer's work is, of course, an epic masterpiece which has endured for more than four milennia and it is nearly impossible to do justice to this legend of incredible, ancient genius. I was disappointed in several places by Atwood's rather shallow depictions of the characters of both Odysseus and Penelope who were both courageous and brilliant in their own ways in Homer's tale. ...more
Chris
Penelope gets the shaft. Come to think of it so does Clymmenstra. Let’s get that clear before we go any further.

Homer was on to something when the he composed the most famous of all ancient works in the forms of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I doubt he even knew how long the story would last and how often his name would be invoked in despair by students the world over. Today, Troy and its related matter appear in a variety of forms from movies, video games, to various books.

This fame of the story h
...more
Res
Jun 21, 2007 Res rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, didnt-finish
The one where Penelope tells her story from the Underworld. I made it about sixty pages before the whining got to me.

Presumably the author feels that Penelope deserves better than to be a secondary character. But since, when put on center stage, this universal-victim Penelope never asserts herself, and is chiefly worried about whether people like her and how she's not as pretty as Helen of Troy, I'd say the Odyssey did her a better turn than Atwood did.
Ray
May 14, 2015 Ray rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An interesting exploration of the back story behind Homer's tale.

Penelope is left behind when Odysseus goes off to the Trojan war. For ten years of war and then a further ten years of gallivanting around the Med, Penelope waits patiently at home for her man.

Odysseus gets to fight Cyclops, dodge sirens and sleep with goddesses, whilst Penelope brings up their son - and a ravenous set of youths circle around the rich "widow". She gets her maids to see to the amorous suitors whilst desperately seek
...more
Teresa
Apr 25, 2008 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Atwood has a brilliant mind, and I think this book is a brilliant way to start the Canongate Myth series: with a story that illustrates the various ways a myth can be interpreted.

Who is telling the truth? Is there only one truth? If so, can it be known? This may seem like a slight read, but underneath it has a lot to say about these questions, about the nature of silence and storytelling itself, including unexpected danger when perhaps you think you've got everything covered ...
Omnya
3.5
أحببتها
رغم أن الترجمة لم تكن جيدة بالنسبة ليّ
katie
I tried. I know no one's going to believe me, but I tried to like this, I swear. I didn't, though. Frankly, the fact that I made it through the book is an accomplishment.

I guess it's a classic Margaret Atwood theme that women are mean to each other. And I guess, it's an indictment? That if it's bad when men treat women poorly (and it is), that it's utterly inforgivable when women treat other women poorly. But, I don't know that shoving that theme onto these characters serves anyone very well. No
...more
Radwa
Feb 13, 2015 Radwa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
أولاً من الأفضل أن تقرأ هذه الرواية بعد قراءة ملحمة الإلياذة والأوديسة لهوميروس، وهو مالم أفعله، وإن كنت سأقرأها قريباً، لكن قراءة الملحمة سيرسم صورة أكبر لقراء هذه الرواية.

تختار أتوود في هذه الرواية -وهو أول عمل أقرأه لها- قصة بينيلوب، ابنة إيكاروس وحورية بحر، الأميرة الإسبرطية،زوجة أوديسوس بطل الملحمة، وتتناول تلك القصة من وجهة نظرها هي، التي -طبقاً لمقدمتها- لا نراها كثيراً ولا تهتم الملحمة بإظهارها بالقدر الكافي.

تتنوع الفصول ما بين قص بينيلوب للرواية وما بين جوقتها الغنائية من خادماتها الاثن
...more
Eva Sinner
Μικρή είχα κόλλημα με την Οδύσσεια. Κάποια στιγμή μου είχε γράψει ο μπαμπάς μου και την ταινία του '97 σε βιντεοκασέτα και την είχα λιώσει. Μεγαλώνοντας τη διδάχτηκα όπως όλοι, και μου ήταν πολύ ευχάριστη λόγω του ότι ήδη ήξερα τα γεγονότα και απλώς τα εμπλούτιζα με λεπτομέρειες! Ε τώρα που μεγάλωσα, ενθουσιάστηκα όταν ειδα ότι υπάρχει βιβλιο που εξιστορεί την ιστορία από την οπτική της Πηνελοπης! Σε γενικές γραμμές το βιβλιο μου άρεσε αν κ δεν ήταν 100% αυτο που περίμενα. Έχει τρομερό ενδιαφέρο ...more
Kay
Aug 07, 2012 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in penelope
Initially, I was intrigued by the premise of this book. A modern-day retelling of Homer's The Odyssey, the book is narrated by Penelope, the loyal and steadfast wife who waited for Odysseus's return for twenty years. Atwood shifts the focus to the marginalized female "others," particularly the 12 maids who were hung at Odysseus's return.

For those whose recollections of The Odyssey are cobwebby, a bit of background: After serving in the Trojan War, Odysseus sets sail for home but is sidetracked
...more
Veronique
Aug 23, 2016 Veronique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stars-4-0, 2016
When it was announced that Canongate was asking famous writers to retell a myth of their choosing, I had a huge grin on my face. I mean, what a great idea. Atwood sets her sight on Penelope, wife of Odysseus, cousin of Helen, and gives us her retelling of The Odyssey.

This is a very different perspective, not just in relation to gender but also setting, since Penelope is narrating from the Underworld ‘today’ (21st century). Indeed, her voice is very modern, simple, matter of fact, witty and not d
...more
Orbi Alter
Dec 19, 2016 Orbi Alter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, mitovi
Pokusala sam poceti pisati komentar na ovaj knjizuljak, ali sve sto mi je dolazilo instinktivno se moze svest na beskrajno puno srca, awwwicha i srece. I tako barem 100 puta. Atwoodica je predivno bice i to vec svi znaju, ali Penelopijada je posebno slatka. Zato jer je britka, jer gada u bit i jer poetizira mitsku pricu na logican nacin s obzirom na stajaliste danasnjeg covjeka, a pritom, premda jest cinicna - nije cinicna bez pokrica. Atwoodica promatra svijet, a kad iz nje pocne ispadati mrak, ...more
Stela
Apr 07, 2015 Stela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I’m not the first to say that, even though I could hardly remember the episode of the twelve maids’ hanging in Penelope’s myth, after reading Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad I will never forget it again.

As you probably know, this novella was written as part of an ambitious and interesting project called “Canongate Myth Series” and started by the Scottish publishing house Canongate Books, which challenged over a hundred authors to rewrite universal myths. It is said that the first choice of the aut
...more
Roman Clodia
Mar 08, 2017 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We're the serving girls, we're here to serve you. We're here to serve you right.

A short book, this is smart, funny and subversively clever as Atwood re-opens Homer's poems, especially The Odyssey, to give us a Penelope who speaks across time from a classical underworld but with a 21st century voice and hindsight to tell her own story.

At the disturbing heart of this tale is the hanging of the twelve maids after Odysseus kills the suitors: a minor incident in Homer, but one which expands in Atwoo
...more
Anna
Feb 20, 2016 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Το πρώτο βιβλίο της Άτγουντ που διαβάζω και το ύφος της με ενθουσίασε! Σίγουρα στο άμεσο μέλλον θα διαβάσω και κάτι άλλο δικό της (μάλλον θα πιάσω την τριλογία Madadam γιατί άκουσα ότι θα γυριστεί σε σειρά και να είμαι έτοιμη ως σπαστική bookreader --> Αστειεύομαι φυσικά, αλλά αν κάποιος έχει κάτι να προτείνει, καλοδεχούμενη η πρόταση!)

Το παρόν βιβλίο περιγράφει το μύθο του Οδυσσέα και της Πηνελόπης από τη σκοπιά της Πηνελόπης. Μάλιστα, εστιάζει στη δολοφονία των Θεραπαινίδων, η οποία ακολούθ
...more
Michelle Tackabery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
شريف ثابت
Mar 16, 2016 شريف ثابت rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
خلال اليومين اللذين استغرقتهما قراءة هذه الرواية الممتعة، لم تَغِب عن ذاكرتى التجربة القديمة الجميلة التى قدمها العراب د. أحمد خالد توفيق قبل خمسة عشر عاماً فى كُتيِّب "عودة المُحارب"، أحد أعداد سلسلة "فانتازيا" وأعاد فيها سَرد أساطير ومغامرات البطل الإغريقى أوديسيوس من منظور عبير عبد الرحمن بطلة السلسلة والتى خاضت هذه المغامرات التى خلدتها أوديسة هوميروس بدلاً منه، مُتقمِصة شخصية مدام بينلوب، زوجته المُخلِصة.. الأمر الذى يُذكِر بضرورة تقييم المشروع الأدبى التثقيفى الهام الذى أقامه د. أحمد خالد ...more
Felicity
Jan 01, 2008 Felicity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Felicity by: Jeannine Hall
A very quick read; the inverse of an epic. Atwood writes a rueful and human Penelope, undercutting here and there the heroism of The Odyssey, and undercuts her in her turn with the sharp-tongued Greek Chorus of angry, dead maids. It is partially this interplay -- chapters of Penelope's memories against highly varied poems, songs and prose excerpts from the 'chorusline' of Maids -- that makes it so easy to read the book at a few sittings. Getting two sides of the same story is interesting and ad ...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Original review posted at Layers of Thought.

This story is from the perspective of “the other” - a marginalized female character in the myth. It is told in the first person by Penelope, wife of Odysseus and cousin to Helen of Troy.

Interestingly Atwood tells this in an unusual and layered way. Penelope is in Hades as she tell the story and pieces are conveyed in poem format at the beginning of each chapter, from the perspective of Penelope's 12 maids. These maids are sacrificed by Odysseus on his
...more
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
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More about Margaret Atwood...

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“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” 739 likes
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