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Circe > Circe: spoiled by mythology?

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message 1: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1023 comments Come join me in my mind for this thought experiment. There's lots of empty space so you'll all fit.
1. A lot of people here hate spoilers.
2. A lot of people here love this book.
3. A lot of people here know a fair amount of Greek mythology.
I imagine a Venn Diagram of these 3 groups would have a pretty big intersection in the middle.
So my question is why aren't a lot of people complaining that life has spoiled this book for them. There's probably dozens of plot points about characters and places and events that you already know about.
Is the writing so good that it overrides any spoilery stuff? That has never seemed to matter when people have complained about spoilers before.

I'm not trying to be jerky but the whole spoiler phobia thing has always baffled me a little and I'm curious about the unique circumstances of this book.


message 2: by Rick (last edited Jun 05, 2018 09:02PM) (new)

Rick | 2193 comments People dislike spoilers because they tend to be very specific, often surprising and important to the story. If you know a given character dies at the end, it takes some impact away to know that.

With this story, I would bet that you are mistaken about how many people know the details of the story. The outline? Yeah, probably. But that gets back to the fact the spoilers are about specific things. (view spoiler) etc.

The fact that I spoiler tagged that brings up a final point. People who love spoiling things are jackasses. There's no good reason to spoil something for another person except to be that jerky kid on the playground who points, laughs and gets enjoyment from ruining the surprise for others.

Now, do spoilers have time limits? Sure. For example, I could remove the spoiler tags above and feel OK about it because that movie is several years old and I think people who would argue about spoiling, say, the first Star Wars or LotR are being unreasonable. But for new material? Be polite.

Finally, the execution of a story can overcome a lot. Most people know the ending of Romeo & Juliet but the play is so well done that it still a pleasure to read and to watch because it's so well written. The language is a pleasure to the ear. This can be the case for many creative works - even if we know the bad guy loses in the end, but the twists and turns in a story like that can bring pleasure if they're done well.


message 3: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Jun 06, 2018 12:04AM) (new)

Tassie Dave | 2340 comments Mod
I know most of the myths around Circe fairly well and I don't mind that I know (mostly) what is going to happen.
The story is well told and enjoyable (unlike last month's pick) so knowing the outcome is not a problem.

You can't please everyone with spoilers. There are people that think all movie trailers are spoilers.


message 4: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I thought I'd read The Song of Achilles before Circe, and I'm having this problem. I've lost interest since they got to Troy because I pretty much know what's going to happen. Circe pops up in several stories. I hope seeing how they tie together will keep me interested.


message 5: by Colin (new)

Colin Forbes (colinforbes) | 265 comments I'm not that well read on the existing lore, so although a lot of the names (people and places) are familiar, large parts of the story are new to me. And, of course, it is all skewed through Circe's view of the events which adds a different twist to the more well worn plot points.

It doesn't hurt that the prose is excellent - as is the audio narration.


message 6: by Scott (new)

Scott | 273 comments I only have a surface familiarity with the original mythology. I know the major names, places, and a few of the major stories (mostly thanks to Dael Kingsmill's videos on Youtube). Personally, I was completely unaware of Circe until reading this book. But, I think, to the extent that I know what's going to happen, I wouldn't classify it as a "spoiler." Like Rick said, people are spoiler-adverse because the "spoiler" often reveals a specific, surprising part of the plot.

But, I think when one reads a book like this, you go into it knowing that things won't be a complete surprise. Kind of like seeing the movie "Titanic"- the ship hitting a iceberg and sinking isn't a "spoiler" because you know that going in.


message 7: by Rick (last edited Jun 06, 2018 10:56AM) (new)

Rick | 2193 comments Scott wrote: "Kind of like seeing the movie "Titanic"- the ship hitting a iceberg and sinking isn't a "spoiler" because you know that going in. ..."


WHAT???? Dammit, Scott....

I do think a book where you know the events (broadly or in detail) has to do something else to capture someone's attention. Even then, it's partly up to the reader. If someone reads mostly for plot it's harder to draw them in. If lovely prose and great characters are their thing, it's easier.


message 8: by William (new)

William | 264 comments Scott wrote: "Kind of like seeing the movie "Titanic"- the ship hitting a iceberg and sinking isn't a "spoiler" because you know that going in...."

I 100% honestly had someone mad with me for mentioning this fact and spoiling the movie. They were unaware that it was a real historical ship.

I weep for humanity.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (JohnTaloni) | 2625 comments I'm not into music and a music loving friend took me to see the Richie Valens biopic "La Bamba." I didn't realize it was based on a true story. We got to the end and I thought "what a lame ending, it should have been anything else."

Probably Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper would all agree to that.


message 10: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 2340 comments Mod
Scott wrote: "Kind of like seeing the movie "Titanic"- the ship hitting a iceberg and sinking isn't a "spoiler" because you know that going in. "

Not everyone knew that ;-)

http://twistedsifter.com/2012/04/peop...


message 11: by William (new)

William | 264 comments I feel I must include this Terry Pratchett quotation:

"It all depends on how much you know.

Suppose you’d watched the slow accretion of snow over thousands of years as it was compressed and pushed over the deep rock until the glacier calved its icebergs into the sea, and you watched an iceberg drift out through the chilly waters, and you got to know its cargo of happy polar bears and seals as they looked forward to a brave new life in the other hemisphere where they say the ice floes are lined with crunchy penguins, and then wham—tragedy loomed in the shape of thousands of tons of unaccountably floating iron and an exciting soundtrack…"



message 12: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 300 comments I don't regard mythology as a big spoiler in this case because-
- there's an awful lot of myths out there and I can't remember all of them;
- with Greek mythology there's generally more than one version of a given myth knocking around;
-you don't know what slant on a character a given author is going to have - most other versions of Circe I've read have her as a 'baddie'


message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 300 comments As for spoiler culture in general I tend to err on the side of caution, even with older stuff. But it's obviously harder when discussing real-life events you might expect someone to already be familiar with - like the sinking of the Titanic!
The same applies with meta-textual information. I got into big trouble with a friend of mine for mentioning that Kit Harington had (view spoiler). I had wrongly assumed that, as a big fan of the show, she would know the 'backstage' stuff as well as the on-screen events.


message 14: by William (new)

William | 264 comments Ruth wrote: "most other versions of Circe I've read have her as a 'baddie' "

Yes they do, yet strangely enough Circe was always a character I felt sympathetc to.


message 15: by Scott (new)

Scott | 273 comments William wrote: "I 100% honestly had someone mad with me for mentioning this fact and spoiling the movie. They were unaware that it was a real historical ship."

Tassie Dave wrote: "

Not everyone knew that ;-)

http://twistedsifter.c..."


I stand corrected.... :|


message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Osborne (Ensorceled) | 78 comments I reject the premise.

I just reread “Dune” for like the 20th time.

I stick my fingers in my ears and sing “lalalalalalalalal” when people start talking about “Game of Thrones”.

There is no contradiction inherent in enjoying a story where I know the ending while not wanting to be spoiled when I don’t.


message 17: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4928 comments William wrote: "Scott wrote: "Kind of like seeing the movie "Titanic"- the ship hitting a iceberg and sinking isn't a "spoiler" because you know that going in...."

I 100% honestly had someone mad with me for mentioning this fact and spoiling the movie. They were unaware that it was a real historical ship.

I weep for humanity."


On the one hand I do find things like this to be weird. I mean, I can understand how someone might not have heard of other maritime disasters like what happened to the Lusitania or the Indianapolis or the mystery of the Mary Celeste, but Titanic is *the* iconic maritime disaster that stands in for all of them. It’s referenced thousands of times and has staying power because of its richly thematic story of hubris and cost-cutting and the cross-section of humanity involved.

On the other hand, when I learned that entire generations of school kids in Utah, Kansas and Texas have never even *heard* of evolution, which is a fundamental principle of science, it makes not knowing about a specific accident more explicable.

When the brouhaha over the Smithsonian’s planned 50th anniversary exhibit of the Enola Gay erupted, most people went, “What now?” They had no idea it was the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. The Japanese government protested, which I found odd, but then it was revealed that the majority of Japanese schoolkids had no idea the US and Japan were ever in a war against each other. Seems like a pretty big thing to leave out of the curriculum.

We all have gaps in our knowledge, but these are pretty major ones.

Trivia question: maybe you’ve heard of the Enola Gay, but do you know the name of the plane to drop the second atom bomb? (view spoiler)


message 18: by terpkristin (new)

terpkristin | 3665 comments I am usually wary of spoilers in books but love to be spoiled in movies, tv, etc (and, full disclosure, I read the Epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows first because I couldn't bear not knowing if the trio survived). I also, should I ever have kids, will find out the gender of the baby before the birth. :P

That said, in the case of mythology, it feels to me like my knowledge of the story augments the experience. Because I may know the story (roughly...or very roughly, in the case of Circe), I don't know what the author will weave to fill in the details.


message 19: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (Nevets) | 997 comments Trike wrote: "When the brouhaha over the Smithsonian’s planned 50th anniversary exhibit of the Enola Gay erupted, most people went, “What now?” They had no idea it was the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb. The Japanese government protested, which I found odd, but then it was revealed that the majority of Japanese schoolkids had no idea the US and Japan were ever in a war against each other. Seems like a pretty big thing to leave out of the curriculum."

I'm reading this after having gone out tonight for a few adult beverages, so I was a bit slow on the uptake. I first read that thinking; I don't remember a recent brouhaha. Then after a few minutes, I realized you were talking about something that would have happened almost 25 years ago! No wounder I didn't remember the brouhaha.

Also, I don't know how "Grave of the Fireflies" is not part of the history curriculum both over in Japan, and here in the US. It is in my mind one of the most powerful tragic post war horror stories that I've seen told.


message 20: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4928 comments John (Nevets) wrote: "I realized you were talking about something that would have happened almost 25 years ago! No wounder I didn't remember the brouhaha. "

I’m at that age where if I say something happened “the other day” I might be referring to last Tuesday or 1985. It’s all running together at this point.


message 21: by Phil (new)

Phil | 1023 comments terpkristin wrote: "I am usually wary of spoilers in books but love to be spoiled in movies, tv, etc (and, full disclosure, I read the Epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows first because I cou..."

The way you feel about mythology based books is how I feel about all books except maybe murder mysteries. Most novels don't have big, twisty, surprise endings so the joy is in the journey, not the destination. Short stories and mysteries are a different matter as they are often all about the surprise ending.
As far as the Harry Potter thing, I have a friend who often reads the last chapter of a book first so he knows not to get too attached to a character that ends up dead.


message 22: by William (last edited Jun 07, 2018 09:38AM) (new)

William | 264 comments I'm expecting there to be a "Too much fuss is made over spoilers" statement sooner or later so I'm going to preempively and humbly share my thoughts:

People read books for different reasons - That's OK.

Some people like to be surprised by events in the books - That's OK.

Some people aren't bothered about surprises - That's OK.

It's courteous to let people enjoy books they way they want to, that may mean not mentioning key twists in public.

So those who go on the forums should be aware that people may mention events that happen in the books - that's just a risk you take, or like Veronica you can choose not to take by staying away until you've finished.

On the other hand, one should also be courteous to the "surprise me" crowd by using spoiler tags for anything that might be the least bit surprising (view spoiler).

Generally I've found the S&L forums surprisingly good with all of this. (view spoiler)


message 23: by Rick (last edited Jun 07, 2018 10:32AM) (new)

Rick | 2193 comments William wrote: "I'm expecting there to be a "Too much fuss is made over spoilers" statement sooner or later so I'm going to preemptively and humbly share my thoughts..."

The only point of disagreement I have with this is that after some time it should be OK to talk about a work without spoilers.

How much time? Hard to say. For movies I'd say a year or so after it hits streaming or other easily available services. For example, I've not seen Solo or Infinity Wars yet. Talking about spoilers for those would be fairly rude IMO. In a year or two? Have at it.

In the meantime, it's on me to also avoid obviously risky threads and fora and, if I do get spoiled, I have to accept that part of that was due to my inaction around seeing the movie.

Obviously old works (LotR, Harry Potter, Murder on the Orient Express, etc)? Again, have at it. Yes, someone might claim they should be able to come to any work fresh no matter how old it is, but that's unreasonable to me.


message 24: by William (new)

William | 264 comments Rick wrote: "The only point of disagreement I have with this is that after some time it should be OK to talk about a work without spoilers...."

So 3000 years (give or take a few centuries) for Homer is OK then?

Well I'm glad that's sorted :-)


message 25: by Stephen (last edited Jun 07, 2018 11:07AM) (new)

Stephen Richter (StephenofLongBeach) | 926 comments In regards to Circe, there are two versions to whom her mother is. Miller went with the story that allowed her to take other liberties with the story. I have come to the conclusion Greek myths are the greatest FanFic ever!


message 26: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 200 comments For me, spoilers are about me being able to explore a thing on my own, to experience it without context or innuendo from other people. Sure, I may know the basic story, but that doesn't mean I know this story. Take Deathless, The Bear and the Nightingale and Uprooted. They all reference very similar stories. Does that mean if you've read one, I get to talk about the end of the other books? No, of course, because they're all quite different in focus and execution. Which is how we get 100 different Arthurian legends or LOTR spin offs or Viking tales. Knowing the basic tale ends up (usually) mattering very little to knowing what exactly will happen next in a book or movie.


message 27: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2193 comments William wrote: "Rick wrote: "The only point of disagreement I have with this is that after some time it should be OK to talk about a work without spoilers...."

So 3000 years (give or take a few centuries) for Hom..."


Just slipped in under the wire :)


message 28: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Morgan (sayselizabeth) | 129 comments I mean, I'm a historian, so I'm kind of ok with knowing how it ends ;) I'm loving Circe, not because it's new ground, but because it's a readable story with characters I've heard of.

Definitely excited to see if Madeline Miller does end up doing the Aeneid!


message 29: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4928 comments John Fugelsang made a relevant tweet today.

https://twitter.com/johnfugelsang/sta...

@JohnFugelsang: "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child." - Cicero, whoever the F that is.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1409 comments I agree with Allison. My hatred of spoilers does not come from not wanting to know what happens next, but from a desire to discover the story without interference. This book is based on myths, but no one has told me which stories will be told, and how they will emerge. There are events I know will happen, but I don't know how those events will unfold in this tale. That is for me to discover.


message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul (ModQuokka) | 4 comments I've not read Circe yet but I can't wait to (having loved the Song of Achilles). However I don't think that matters.

For me the crux of the question relates to mythology, folklore, legend and the transient nature of interpretation; it's allowed in fiction. So, although many of the characters, events and settings might be known, the discovery is in a new telling...

A new interpretation;
It's fun!


message 32: by Tasha (new)

Tasha While knowing the myths did hurt Song of Achilles for me (just a little though,) I didn't have the same problem with Circe. Maybe it was not knowing as much about her? I don't know.


message 33: by William (last edited Jun 18, 2018 02:07PM) (new)

William | 264 comments As someone who at one time had sections of the Argonautica, Iliad and Odyssey memorised (now long since relegated to a cobwebby mental box) I actually found that knowing the key points made this much more exciting.

I've been on the edge of my seat muttering to myself:
"How will she handle this one?"...
"Oooh! I know who you are!"...
"Wow that's a different take!"...
"She worked that story in - nice one!".

Full disclosure:
I once rewrote the story of Circe as a play for a group of 8 year olds. In my retelling, Circe and Odysseus came to their understanding over shared ice cream... so I suppose I'm OK with "reimagining" the Circe myth.


message 34: by Daryl (new)

Daryl | 67 comments William wrote: "... I actually found that knowing the key points made this much more exciting..."

Agreed completely. My love and previous knowledge of the mythology definitely increased my fondness for this book. I actually wonder how I'd feel if I wasn't familiar with these stories already. Would I have liked it as much? I don't know.


message 35: by Iain (new)

Iain Bertram (Iain_Bertram) | 606 comments Daryl wrote: "William wrote: "... I actually found that knowing the key points made this much more exciting..."

Agreed completely. My love and previous knowledge of the mythology definitely increased my fondnes..."


This is a book that is designed and written assuming a knowledge of the source material. The twits are based on knowing the original stories.

I recall JMS stating that in most stories you know how it is going to end, the fun is how you get there.


message 36: by Ed (new)

Ed (swampyankee) | 22 comments Phil wrote: "terpkristin wrote: "I am usually wary of spoilers in books but love to be spoiled in movies, tv, etc (and, full disclosure, I read the Epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows..."

I agree with the basis of your comment, but I'd like to expand it a little: a good book, or movie, draws the reader into it deeply enough so the spoilers don't matter.

Guess what? I've seen Casablanca several times, read various good books multiple times, saw works such as Carmen and Othello more than once, and knowing the ending made no difference. If spoilers wreck a story for somebody, something in the implicit contract between author and reader is broken.


message 37: by Tasha (last edited Jun 27, 2018 09:21AM) (new)

Tasha Ed brings up a good point. The book is already spoiled on re-reads. Some people enjoy reading books several times; others (like me) do not. Does this affect your feelings on spoilers?


message 38: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 200 comments Ed wrote: " If spoilers wreck a story for somebody, something in the implicit contract between author and reader is broken. "

Gotta disagree. A story can still be good with spoilers, but it changes the reading experience. In instances of brand new stories, the question while reading changes from "what's going to happen?" to "how is this going to happen?" And, for a story that's well known, a spoiler would answer the "how" so the question would change from "how will this happen?" to "when will this happen?" In each case, it's not about the quality of the story, it's about the reading experience. For many, (ask the folks who socked the people who spoiled Force Awakens on opening night) the experience of watching a story unfold is as critical, but separate from, the literary rubric we check off while reading a story. They are both part of how a reader gauges enjoyment, but they're not necessarily related.

It's possible to be so caught up in the experience of the story unfolding, that a spoiler can bleed into how you consume it, thereby wrecking a story that is still perfectly good in terms of literary capability. It's also possible to mourn the loss of the exploration experience while still finding the book to be well written.


message 39: by Ed (new)

Ed (swampyankee) | 22 comments Tasha wrote "Ed brings up a good point. The book is already spoiled on re-reads. Some people enjoy reading books several times; others (like me) do not. Does this affect your feelings on spoilers? "
I expect that whether or not one rereads would change one's feeling on spoilers; reading a book for the first time can be like unwrapping a birthday present, but I think that there's a second issue: there is some portion of fiction that really is designed as a throwaway; I think this is especially true for puzzle-type mysteries. My opinion is great books (my list of great books probably has little in common with, say, Harold Bloom's) are, by definition is those that are worth reading multiple times.


message 40: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Preiman | 325 comments I enjoy rereads as much if not more than the first time I read something, however it’s a different kind of enjoyment. If a work is spoiled for me, often I can still get the kind of enjoyment I get from a reread but I am robbed of that initial exploration and discovery and I do resent that.
Every now and then the conversation goes back to how spoilers aren’t really that bad, for some people they aren’t for some people they are rather than trying to justify them why can’t we simply allow people to consume material the way they choose rather than trying to inflict something on them and then justify it as not that bad after the fact.
Let people who want them get them but help people who don’t avoid them as much as possible. That really shouldn’t be a controversial statement.


message 41: by Trike (new)

Trike | 4928 comments Christopher wrote: "I enjoy rereads as much if not more than the first time I read something, however it’s a different kind of enjoyment. If a work is spoiled for me, often I can still get the kind of enjoyment I get from a reread but I am robbed of that initial exploration and discovery and I do resent that. "

Christopher is my spokesman on this matter. What he said.


message 42: by Rick (last edited Jun 27, 2018 04:59PM) (new)

Rick | 2193 comments Christopher wrote: "Let people who want them get them but help people who don’t avoid them as much as possible. That really shouldn’t be a controversial statement ..."

Within reason. If someone complained today about being spoiled for, say, The Sixth Sense, I'd look askance at that. The film is almost 20 years old at this point. I mean, if someone was watching it for the first time I wouldn't go out of my way to spoil it but if the film came up in conversation and someone got bent out of shape when the spoiler was mentioned... that's going overboard.


message 43: by Dara (new)

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2268 comments I'm not too familiar with the mythology of Circe so in this case, I went hunting for spoilers. I need something to look forward to because Circle is such a dimwit and I don't really like being in her head.


message 44: by Iain (new)

Iain Bertram (Iain_Bertram) | 606 comments Dara wrote: "I'm not too familiar with the mythology of Circe so in this case, I went hunting for spoilers. I need something to look forward to because Circle is such a dimwit and I don't really like being in h..."

She grows on you


message 45: by Tasha (new)

Tasha I didn't like her at first either, but she grows up.


message 46: by Ed (new)

Ed (swampyankee) | 22 comments Dara wrote: "I'm not too familiar with the mythology of Circe so in this case, I went hunting for spoilers. I need something to look forward to because Circe is such a dimwit and I don't really like being in h..."


When somebody says "men are pigs," Circe can make it so.

Rick wrote: "Within reason. If someone complained today about being spoiled for, say, The Sixth Sense, I'd look askance at that. The film is almost 20 years old at this point. I mean, if someone was watching it for the first time I wouldn't go out of my way to spoil it but if the film came up in conversation and someone got bent out of shape when the spoiler was mentioned... that's going overboard."


What he said. There is work in what is called "the common cultural heritage"; the legend of Circe is part of that. I'd not reveal major plot points for something less than a few years old; that's just rude, but something that's been around for decades? If one is angered by, say, somebody telling the ending of The Scarlet Letter or Crime and Punishment, I don't think the problem is with the person who revealed the ending.


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