- Paperback: 216 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Canada; First Edition 1st Printing edition (Aug. 15 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0676974252
- ISBN-13: 978-0676974256
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 18.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus Paperback – Aug 15 2006
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“The Penelopiad is a brilliant tour de force that takes an aspect of The Odyssey and opens up new vistas.... Atwood turns a gruesome, barbaric episode into an ironic tragedy of double agents.” National Post
“Two things are apparent when you begin reading The Penelopiad. First, this is a writer who is confidently at the height of her powers. And, second, she’s having fun.” The Vancouver Sun
“Atwood’s putting Penelope in the starring role is a fine and fresh revisioning.... Somehow (it is a measure of her genius that one cannot quite say how), she makes us hear the voice of Penelope, reflecting in Hades on her life, as if it were the voice of the most interesting gossip you have ever had coffee with.... This is a wonderful book.” The Globe and Mail
“Feels like a breath of fresh air blown in from the Mediterranean Sea.... The Penelopiad is Atwood in top form. The woman who wrote The Handmaid’s Tale hasn’t lost her acerbic touch.” The Gazette
“A startling commentary on the responsibility of power, and of how privilege can shade into complicity. The Penelopiad is anything but a woe-is-woman discourse.” Calgary Herald
“In this exquisitely poised book, Atwood blends intimate humour with a finely tempered outrage at the terrible injustice of the maids, phrasing both in language as potent as a curse.” The Sunday Times
About the Author
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. A book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales was published in 2014. Her novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. A volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
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Whoever reads this will enjoy it more if they have some knowledge of the Iliad and the Odyssey.
Well, Penelope's fate is bleak as well. The Penelopiad is written from beyond the grave, as it were, with a continued Greek chorus (literally) made of her hanged maids.
But it is a very funny, very clever, and quite thought-provoking story as well. Atwood is certainly a more-than-competent writer, and one gets the sense that she was feeling quite playful when she penned this little volume.
I'm having a hard time deciding on 4 stars or 5 with this one. It deserves 5 for some of the passages of Penelope in the underworld - very nicely done - but I think 4 is a more accurate rating of my overall enjoyment of the story. Repetitive in spots, and we are ceaselessly flogged with Atwood's messages about female oppression. Enough already - we GET it, Margaret!
Is this a wishy-washy review? Not really meant to be - the book is definitely worth a read. Quick and easy, and leaves one smiling rather than suicidal - always a bonus with this author, don't you think?
The Penelopiad is a hilarious romp through a story that most of us know, but told outside of time. There is an old saying that "dead men don't tell tales" and that may be true, but in this inventive retelling, a dead woman and her chorus of dead girls do just that.
Atwood has turned this myth on its head and told it from the female perspective. Unfortunately, our heroine is dead and in Hades, retelling her story from across the river Styx. She is telling her whole story but especially the events around Odysseus' long absence during the war against Troy and that unfortunate event with her cousin Helen.
The story is written in the format of a Greek Tragedy but with the humor and temperament of a comedy. Our chorus is the twelve dead maids, hung strung together on a ship's rope by Odysseus. They appear from time to time, in song, dance, or mock plays and trials to re-enact events from their lives to punctuate Penelope's story.
The twists and turns in this story will make you laugh out loud. A friend of mine who read it stated, "It begs to be read aloud." And I could not agree more. Pick up the book, get some friends together and read it aloud, over an evening or two together. Much fun will be had with the ghosts of our 13 dead ladies.
This book goes beyond the ordinary tellings of a good-natured wife: dutiful, patient, and faithful. Rather, instead twisting Penelope into some sort of a rebellious figure, Atwood stays true to Homer's story. Atwood reinforces Homer's character with greater zeal - Penelope has much to overcome to uphold her good-natured housewife identity. She feels much more real, more tangible than any other mythical figure ever told. Atwood's ability to create characters like Penelope is one her best gifts.
A humourous, smart and cunning story. Personally, I felt much satisfaction after reading this book.
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