Posts Tagged 'greek mythology'

Book Review: Circe, by Madeline Miller

Fairy tale retellings through a feminist lens have gotten super popular lately.  Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland…all of them have had eager authors writing them darker, edgier, stronger. That doesn’t mean they’ve all been done well.

tenor

For a true reinvention of a classic myth, look no further than Circe, by Madeline Miller. It. Is. FANTASTIC. I read it in a day because I simply couldn’t put it down. (I was on vacation, sure, but still. One day!)

circe

Miller’s reinvention keeps many of the same beats as the original Greek myth. Circe is a nymph born to Perse, an oceanid, and Helios, Titan god of the sun. She has a talent for witchcraft, which gets her into trouble. She eventually is banished to an island, where she lives a solitary life amongst the lions and wolves. When sailors land or are shipwrecked there, she turns them into pigs. She meets Odysseus and seduces him into staying on her island for a year.

This leaves a lot of blank space as to who Circe really is, what motivates her, what her thoughts and hopes and fears consist of. And it’s in those blank spaces that Miller’s creation really shines. Her Circe is a lonely, unloved child, not-quite god and not-quite human, roaming the immortal halls of her parents desperate for some emotional connection amongst the perfect, cold Titans and nymphs. She finds it briefly in the tortured Prometheus, punished in front of all Titans for the sin of bringing fire to man, who bestows to her the words that will come to define her:

Not every god need be the same.

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