The Penelopiad (Canongate Myths #2)
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...more
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
But I guess that whole idea--taking an ancient oral legend from an isolated...more
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
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 usual 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 re...more
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
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.
I enjoyed this book both for its acutely researched Greco-Roma...more
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
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 ...
This is a retelling of the story of The Odyssey from the perspective of Penelope, the wife left behind during Odysseus's twenty years of adventure and intrigue. Atwood hypothesises that the limited attention that Penelope and her plight gets in most tellings of the story is due to the patriarchal structure marginalizing her feme...more
I wasn't perhaps entirely sure of the prose used for Penelope's voice--what she was saying seemed very true for her, and i...more
Good things: it's short. It has an interesting point of view: Penelope in the 21st century, long dead and accustomed to the realm of the afterlife. She has a wry and somewhat disgruntled voice, and the story is well told.
Not-as-good things: the maids. Apparently Odysseus,...more
It takes a bold author to tread behind...more
The Penelope presented here is strong and clever, but she's also humanized because we're allowed to see her insecurities...more
I was hoping for something similar with Penelope. As much as I love...more
Having read The Odyssey several times in college, my attention was grabbed by the telling of a different character’s perspective, in particular, a feminist point of view, as The...more
"Sem omenila, da ne jemo drugega kakor lilije? Ampak ne smem se pritoževati. Temnejše jame so bolj zanimive - tam je pogovor boljši. Če dobiš kakšneg...more
The maids provide a chorus - written in different genres (ex/ song, court trial) to Penelope's first person account from Hades. It's richly imagine...more
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...more