October 12, 2009

His story - her story

Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (2005)

I love the idea of this book. Telling the famous story about Odysseus' journey from the point of view of his wife, Penelope.

Penelope's name is traditionally associated with faithfulness, because she keps her suitors at bay in Odysseus long absence. She is like a statue of the faithfulness in the stories have been told during many-many centuries.

In the book Penelopiad she is a vivid character, although she is already dead, or better to say: her soul in Hades. Now, in the 21. Century. She knows many things about our life and compares it with her time several times. She tells us her own story but from a point of view of the 21. Century. She always contradicts the old myths. She knows myths, legends, the stories of epic poems are sometimes quite different to what has really happened. The adventures of Odysseus sound really good, but these are mostly just fictions, products of the poets' imagination.

These are stories told in the men's world. And what is with the women's world? The male poets' imaginations about women's life are sometimes nonsense.

Are there really only just two ways? The way of the wife (Penelope) and the vamp's one (Helen of Troy)? Is there a type of women, for whom men are fighting? And is there an another type of women, who are waiting for men end the fight? (Well, it looks like the main point in the men's world is: fighting.)

Penelope tells a story about her life which wasn't a fairy tale. But she was still the daughter of Icarius (a king) she was the wife of Odysseus (another king).

An totally another perspective is the Chorus' one. This is from the twelve maids killed by Telemachus, (the son of Odysseus and Penelope). The voice of the Chorus is quite sarcastic and wants to point to the value of the women's life (the worthless of women's life?) in the Greek myth. Those women's life who aren't goddesses, or queens or other noble and famous or extraordinary someone.

So, I love this novel, it's really a bright idea, and I love the opinion of this book, myths are just fiction of people, and now there is an other one.

The book was published as part of the Canongate Myth Series. Other book of this series is for example the Weight by Jeanette Winterson, which is a bit different, and it's more about the eternal desire of storytelling.

And I would like to mention an other book, which is related to Atwood's novel. It's the novel A pillanat [The Moment] by Magda Szabo. It's about the idea not Aeneas arrived in Italy to establish a new homeland after the Trojan War, but his wife. This story also contradicts to the well-known myth from the point of view of a woman.

(This review was written for the challenge: Fall into Reading 09)

Take a look at my list for this challenge here...

3 megjegyzés:

Marie said...

Ursula LeGuin recently published another book like this, LAVINIA, about Aeneas's wife. It's a really great book, told from her point of view- and the neat part is, she knows she's a fictional creation so there is the whole metafictional element as well. And it's beautifully written!

Diane said...

Margaret Atwood is pretty amazing. I liked The Edible Woman, and this sounds like another less-heard about title that I would like. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I've read and loved Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale".

To know she's written a story from Odysseus' wife's point of view and added a twist--that of comparing her world and the 21st century--makes me want to trawl the bookstores for a copy tomorrow. I hope they sell it in my side of the world.

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