The story of Penelope -- as told by herself. InThe 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'sOdysseyis 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 ofThe 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, inThe Penelopiad, so is Penelope herself. --from Margaret Atwood's Introduction toThe Penelopiad From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Drawing on a range of sources, in addition to The Odyssey, Atwood scripts the narrative of Penelope, the faithful and devoted wife of Odysseus and her 12 maids, who were killed upon the master?s return. Atwood proposes striking interpretations of her characters that challenge the patriarchal nature of Greek mythology. The chapters transition between the firsthand account of Penelope and the chorus of maids as listeners are taken from Penelope?s early life to her afterlife. Laural Merlington charmingly delivers the witty and perceptive Penelope with realistic inflection and emphasis. Some of her vocal caricatures seem over the top, but most voices maintain a resemblance to our perceptions of these mythic people. The maids are presented as a saddened chorus by a cloning of Merlington?s voice. These dark figures speak straightforwardly in their accusations of Penelope and Odysseus, while, at other times, they make use of rhyming. This format works well, though sometimes the cadence and rhyming scheme are off beat. This benefits the production by creating an eerie resonance and haunting demeanor that enhances this engaging tale. Simultaneous release with the Canongate hardcover. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information."
|| Toronto, ON :Knopf,2005
199 pages ; 21 cm.