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Die Penelopiade

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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  18,379 ratings  ·  1,808 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 rumors, to maintain ...more
Paperback, 171 pages
Published 2007 by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (first published January 1st 2005)
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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
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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
oOSarahOo ☼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.



Rowena
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
Teresa
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 ...
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
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Res
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.
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
Kay
Aug 29, 2014 Kay rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
Vanessa
The Penelopiad takes on the classic story of The Odyssey by Homer - but from the perspective of Penelope, wife of Odysseus and mother of Telemachus. Having been left behind at home while Odysseus battles in the Trojan War, she must wait for years as he tries to make his way back to her - meanwhile trying to control her arrogant teenage son, battle off one hundred suitors desperate for Odysseus's title, and assert herself over the household she has been left to tend alone.

I loved the way this was
...more
Anna [Floanne]
Voto: 4.5 stelle

"Ora che sono morta so tutto". Così comincia questo breve romanzo in cui Margareth 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
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
Sharon
Mar 11, 2008 Sharon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has read the Odyssey
Recommended to Sharon by: TwitterLit
This slight book is a pleasure. I learned of it through TwitterLit, which sends out the first sentence of books. The first sentence of this one--"Now that I'm dead I know everything."--is contradicted in the next sentence and throughout the book. What we know of Odysseus from Homer is not contradicted but questioned as Penelope recounts her story. And, since she says that both she and Odysseus are "proficient and shameless liars," we are clearly meant to question what we are told. In the end, on ...more
Stela

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
Michelle Tackabery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Siria
At only 196 pages in the hardback version, this is hardly the lengthiest of Atwood's work; it's still one of her most insightful, and her most enjoyable. It hit several of my favourite story-telling kinks--the relationships between story-telling and truth, myth and history and the role of women--and for something which is so slim a work, there is an awful lot to unpack in it.

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
Vicky
I enjoyed the beginning and the end of the story and I love how Atwood gives a voice to the voiceless hanged maids, but overall, I closed the book without being impressed. I will definitely check out more of her work, though.
Stephen Durrant
Margaret Atwood is always a pleasure to read, and this novel was no exception. As the title indicates, this is a somewhat playful retelling of the Odyssey from Penelope's point of view. Of course she doesn't see much, since she is left at home wondering just what her husband is up to. Yes, she hears of adventures concerning the Cyclops, Calypso, etc., but she suspects that these are just exaggerated versions for her ears of time Odysseus is squandering in drunken brawls with tavern owners and fr ...more
Taro Shijuukara
I think I expected more from this book. It looks promising, but fails to completely deliver.

Really, Atwood spends a lot of the time rehashing the old stories (yes, though, adding in information from rarely read histories as well as the Prime Source, The Odyssey); but I feel there really wasn't a great deal of new, fresh story. I was expecting this to be a woman's view of 'what happened while Odysseus was away,' but she skips 18 years -> we really have no more extrapolation than in the Odysse
...more
Tatiana
This is my first Margaret Atwood book and I hope it is not indicative of the writing she normally produces. I've heard many great things about this author and the story just doesn't live up to the hype.

"The Penelopiad" starts out nicely - a rather interesting albeit superficial retelling of various myths about Penelope, famous Odysseus' wife. The story is told from Penelope's point of view and attempts to modernize the image of a meek and ever-faithful and honest wife we know from Greek mytholog
...more
Alexis
May 16, 2008 Alexis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alexis by: Georgina Cullman
I have always been fascinated by Penelope and my fascination only grew after reading Ben Ehrenreich's contemporary retelling of The Odyssey, The Suitors, which focuses on Penelope and her suitors (in Ehrenreich's tale the suitors are both men and women and there are no female servants). I also appreciate the "myths" series from Canongate, of which The Penelopiad is one, although I have not read nearly as many of them as I would like.

I enjoyed this book both for its acutely researched Greco-Roma
...more
Felicity
Nov 18, 2008 Felicity rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Amanda
May 26, 2011 Amanda rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greek Mythology Lovers
As you know by now, Margaret Atwood is my fav among favs. As with most of her books, the first sentence in The Penelopiad woos me into a state of euphoria. But that's kinda it for this one. I love the idea of the Myth Project--several writers put "a contemporary twist on an ancient story." And I love the very Greek-Tragic style of storytelling she uses here. But Penelope herself is rather boring and I became rather bored with her boringness.

2 days to read, 2 stars, and I'm shelving it as fantas
...more
Shirley Schwartz
Margaret Atwood was asked to venture into the area of Greek mythology and craft a story from that time. She chose Penelope, the long suffering wife of Odysseus of Trojan War fame. She picked Penelope because mythology has painted her as the faithful wife who waited for twenty years for her husband to return. While Odysseus was away and seemingly lost, numerous suitors descended on Ithaca to try to win the hand of Penelope. She managed to withstand the siege and stayed true to her lord and husban ...more
Winston
Less a feminist retelling of the Greek myth than a criticism of confused feminist aspirations, Penelope is a flawed heroine beleaguered by her plain looks, despite constant self-affirmations of her intellect. Taunted, possibly in her own mind, by the seductive beauty of her cousin Helen, she relegates herself to a poor second prize for Odysseus, who failing to woo beauty settled for chastity (and a princely kingdom) instead, achieved through victory in an appropriately trivial race with not a dr ...more
C.
For some reason I'm fascinated by the idea of modern adaptations of old works of literature. I have no idea why this is, but it's true pretty much 100% of the time. So I found this book, which retells Homer's Odyssey from the point of view of Penelope (Odysseus' wife), extremely interesting.

Even so, I'm not sure that it worked. Penelope speaks with a typically Atwoodian voice: wry, down-to-earth, smart, resigned. This didn't convince me. Neither did her distinctly twenty-first century attitude.
...more
Navaneeta
Feb 08, 2012 Navaneeta added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in retellings of myths.
Shelves: feminist, canadian
Again a book I will refrain from rating. At the moment i.e. Right now, I am still ruminating.

Did I enjoy the book? I did. Did I love the book? I am not so sure. The book was going fine for me. I love to hear the underdog speak and I had always, always hated the popular image of the 'virtuous' Penelope. This Penelope appealed to me, with her vices and her insecurities and her failings.

But maybe, I don't like things to be spelt out to me. I love to believe that I have the intelligence to recogniz
...more
Selena
Jun 12, 2008 Selena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greek Mythology Buffs
I really enjoyed this book, I think the whole idea of the myth series is fantastic and I am totally in support, even if I don't love every book that will come out of it.

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
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  • The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
  • The Hurricane Party
  • Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams
  • Baba Yaga Laid an Egg
  • Lavinia
  • Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson
  • Alcestis
  • Ransom
  • The Lost Books of The Odyssey
  • The Fire Gospel
  • A Short History of Myth
  • Ragnarok
  • Cassandra: A Novel and Four Essays
  • The King Must Die (Theseus, #1)
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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
...more
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.” 401 likes
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