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The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths, The) [Paperback]

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Item Number 346547  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   224
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.08" Width: 4.73" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.39 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 14, 2006
Publisher   Canongate U.S.
ISBN  1841957984  
EAN  9781841957982  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin presents a cycle of stories about Penelope, wife of Odysseus, through the eyes of the twelve maids hanged for disloyalty to Odysseus in his absence. Reprint.

Publishers Description
The story of Penelope -- as told by herself.
In The Odyssey, Penelope -- daughter of King Icarius of Sparta, and the cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy -- is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. Atwood's dazzling retelling of the old myth is as haunting as it is wise and compassionate, as disturbing as it is entertaining. With incomparable wit and verve, she gives the story of Penelope new life and reality.

"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 have drawn on material other than The Odyssey, especially for the details of Penelope's parentage, her early life and marriage, and the scandalous rumours circulating about her.
I've chosen to give the telling of the story to Penelope and to her 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

"From the Hardcover edition.

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More About Margaret Atwood

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid's Tale, her novels include Cat's Eye, short-listed for the 1989 Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; Oryx and Crake, short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize; The Year of the Flood; and her most recent, MaddAddam. She is the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Innovator's Award, and lives in Toronto with the writer Graeme Gibson.

Margaret Atwood currently resides in Toronto. Margaret Atwood was born in 1939.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( A ) > Atwood, Margaret   [8  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Fairy Tales   [846  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Mythology > General   [3063  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Light, Fun and Witty but Ultimately Aimless, Disappointing  Oct 23, 2008
2 and 1/2 Stars.

'The Penelopiad' is a sharp and clever novella, infused with Atwood's usual wit and charm. But beware: this is merely Atwood-lite.

Let me first start by saying that I am a huge fan of 'The Odyssey', it's one of the earliest books I've read and, as such, will forever occupy a small corner of my heart. So when I found out that one of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood, would be putting her own personal twist on Homer's classic tale I became ecstatic. But I think anticipation for the book created a bit of over-expectation on my part.

The book primarily focuses on the tragedy of Penelope's twelve maids. Here in lies the problem for me, the character of Penelope is fairly well developed while the twelve maids seem one-dimensional. Their death is a major emotional arch in the story but since the maids are so underdeveloped it's hard to find empathy for them by the time the tragedy comes about. I get it and I think it could have worked if Atwood gave us more time between Penelope and the maids, or even just the maids by themselves. On the other side of the coin, I think using the maids as a chorus was clever and worked, for the most part.

Recommended to fans of 'The Odyssey'
Delightfully Cheeky  Oct 9, 2008
Margaret Atwood can write in many tones, but cheeky has to be her best. She made the story of the long-suffering Penelope and the insufferable Odysseus a delight to read, with character revelations poor old Homer couldn't possibly imagine and a chorus of maltreated maids that not only provided commentary but the real backbone of the plot as well.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds: A Novel of Scandal, Love and Death in the Congo
A Lackluster Protagonist for a Lakluster Story  Jun 13, 2008
Disappointing. My hope was for a retelling of The Odyssey that would give a richer, more intriguing and unique viewpoint of Penelope and her maids over the twenty-year span of Odysseus' absence. What it instead ends up being is a boring recounting of Penelope crying, filling up the time doing nothing, or being sarcastic about life now that she inhabits the Underworld. She speaks in far too modern a tone, and sounds much more like a feminist mouthpiece than anything else. The book also assumes knowledge of the Odyssey--granted, it is a retelling of sorts, but should be enjoyable without me puzzling over certain names or events. And Penelope herself is, in a word, boring. The redeeming factor of the book lie in the interludes, songs and poems and small scenes featuring Penelope's maids acting as a Greek chorus. They are beautiful, clever, and occasionally terribly moving or even funny. They provide the only relief throughout an otherwise dragging story.
Light, satirical and racy  Apr 15, 2008
Definitely different than any Atwood I've read. Told from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus's long suffering, devoted wife, about what really went on during his travels ... and most of it is not flattering of Odysseus or, frankly, of Penelope. This story is light and satirical, if a bit racy at times. An amusing and extremely quick read that broke up the heavy subject matter I have been reading as of late (e.g., The Road, No Country for Old Men). Makes me want to go back and read The Odyssey all over again!
Cult of the Mother Goddess  Feb 21, 2008
Margaret Atwood reveals Helen as a heartless bimbo trading on her looks, and she vividly recaptures the tensions of domestic Ithaca (dealing with Odysseus' ex-nanny proves predictably more of a problem than Homer ever let on). There are delights, too, for classical "insiders": the debate, for example, about whether Penelope and Odysseus are to set up house in the bride's or the groom's home turns into a neat joke about changes in prehistoric Greek marriage practice. But more than this - and here Atwood is far ahead of Winterson - she explores, through the figures of Odysseus and Penelope, the very nature of mythic story-telling. When Odysseus is such a renowned liar, how is Penelope to understand what he tells her on his return from his wanderings? Can you know something to be untrue and still "believe" it?

The only blot on this brilliant book is a chapter entitled "An Anthropology Lecture". This insists, through the mouth of the murdered maids, that deep beneath the story of Penelope lies the cult of the Mother Goddess, and that anyone who does not accept the matriarchal substrate of Greek myth has not learned the lessons of feminism. This is complete rubbish (most feminists I know think that matriarchy is itself a myth invented by patriarchal culture).

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