Amanda Mecke's Reviews > Ransom

Ransom by David Malouf
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Oct 03, 2011

it was amazing
Read in September, 2011

This is an extraordinary retelling of an event which gets only a few lines in The Illiad, King Priam's visit to Achilles to ransom his son Hector's body for proper burial. Malaouf shows Priam as father, not King, and the "backstory" explains how this slight change in perspective, from Achilles's vengeful desecration of Hector's corpse to his accepting ransom for compassion's sake, is a masterful parable. Today's debates over the death penalty echo the same battle. The choice, Malouf shows, is not between forgiveness and revenge, but between compassion that can heal and perpetual anger that festers.

These modern versions of classic stories about events which take place "off stage" are wonderful reminders of why all story telling is re-telling, all reading re-reading, why remembering the books that have gone before our time one of the greatest pleasures of literacy.

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