- Hardcover: 216 pages
- Publisher: Canongate Books; First Edition First Printing edition (21 Oct. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841956457
- ISBN-13: 978-1841956459
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 510,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Penelopiad : the Myth of Penelope and Odysseus Hardcover – 21 Oct 2005
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"Homer's Odyssey is not the only version of the story. Mythic material was originally oral, and also local - a myth would be told one way in one place and quite differently in another... "I've chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to the twelve hanged Maids. The Maids form a chanting and singing Chorus which focuses on two questions that must pose themselves after any close reading of The Odyssey: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? The story as told in The Odyssey doesn't hold water: there are too many inconsistencies. I've always been haunted by the hanged maids; and, in The Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself." From Margaret Atwood's Introduction to The Penelopiad
Margaret Atwood's acclaimed stage adaptation of Homer. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Penelope chafes against posterity and how it exemplifies her as the faithful, stay-at-home wife. She's not interested in being an archetype; she's remembering the awkward in-laws, her uncouth teenage son, Odysseus' stubby legs. Homer sings hymns to Odysseus and his wily ways; Atwood shows us what it's like to be married to a dishonest man. Helen of Troy is here too (she's Penelope's cousin) and she's just like you knew she really would be - vapid, catty, only real when reflected in a man's eyes.
Running beneath the humour is the story of everything that Penelope has lost: her home, her husband, her youth, her friends, her life, her truth. Our narrator is a weary shade, viewing the world from the dim, grey realm of Hades. But having left behind life, she's also left behind the illusions that go with it. Dead she might be but her vision is clear, her humour is bone-dry, and her story is full-blooded.
If you've read the Odyssey, this novel will mean all the more to you. If you haven't, it will inspire you to search out 3,000 year-old Greek epic poetry. Either way, treasure this book.
Atwood uses the maids as a chorus in the book to give their side of the story and also cast doubt on what Penelope is saying. She does this by writing in verse and whilst it's well written and amusing, it doesn't give them such a dramatic voice and whereas the effect should be to make you emphasise with their fate, I found it too superficial to do so.Read more ›
Penelope is a strong voice throughout the narrative and is believable as the classical character. There is a pleasing cynicism about her attitude that is thoroughly modern but gives a timeless feel to this re-written myth.
Atwood uses poetry and song in interludes to add extra layers to the story in the form of a chorus of Penelope's slave girls - copying the style found in Greek tragedy. This works effectively for the majority of the book and is a clever take on an ancient form. I would have preferred her to stick to poems and songs rather than also adding a modern day court scene near the end and an anthropology lecture which I felt jarred with the rest of the book.
It seems that Atwood was keen to make the story 'relevant' to our times and she resorted to cliched means to do this at the end. This was a shame as the first 2/3 of the book is excellent and was already making me see resonances with the modern world.
I think it would have been a better read had she allowed it to be more subtle in its 'message' rather than spelling things out at the end as if the reader hadn't already thought 'there are lots of Odysseuses and Penelopes in our world today'.
A bit of a disappointment from one of the world's greatest writers.
Try this for a thoughtful but entertaining read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have a thing for mythology… especially Greek Mythology. Anyone who vaguely knows me or follows my fandom blog (runningwithshewolves) will know this. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Charlotte
The Penelopiad sets out with the aim to "set the record straight" as to Penelope's role in The Odyssey and The Iliad, but sadly falls flat in some important respects. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Christopher Garrett
What Homer never told you – indeed! After reading Cassandra I was prepared for another boring journey into Ancient Greece… How wrong I was! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lola
A clever retelling of the story of Penelope and Odysseus, from Penelope's perspective of course. The narrative moves between Hades, where Penelope currently resides, and the past,... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I didn't know what to expect from this book but I'm so glad I bought it.
I love Margaret Atwood and don't think I've ever read one I didn't enjoy. Read more
Wonderful, love books based around mythology, please suggest more to me! Many thanks, MariaPublished 8 months ago by Maria Fallows