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book cover of The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad

(2003)
The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
(The second book in the Myths series)
A Novella by

 
 
The internationally acclaimed Myths series brings together some of the finest writers of our time to provide a contemporary take on some of our most enduring stories. Here, the timeless and universal tales that reflect and shape our lives-mirroring our fears and desires, helping us make sense of the world-are revisited, updated, and made new.

Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad is a sharp, brilliant and tender revision of a story at the heart of our culture: the myths about Penelope and Odysseus. In Homer's familiar version, The Odyssey, Penelope is portrayed as the quintessential faithful wife. Left alone for twenty years when Odysseus goes to fight in the Trojan Wars, she manages to maintain the kingdom of Ithaca, bring up her wayward son and, in the face of scandalous rumours, keep over a hundred suitors at bay. When Odysseus finally comes home after enduring hardships, overcoming monsters and sleeping with goddesses, he kills Penelope's suitors and-curiously-twelve of her maids.

In Homer the hanging of the maids merits only a fleeting though poignant mention, but Atwood comments in her introduction that she has always been haunted by those deaths. The Penelopiad, she adds, begins with two questions: what led to the hanging of the maids, and what was Penelope really up to? In the book, these subjects are explored by Penelope herself-telling the story from Hades - the Greek afterworld - in wry, sometimes acid tones. But Penelope's maids also figure as a singing and dancing chorus (and chorus line), commenting on the action in poems, songs, an anthropology lecture and even a videotaped trial.

The Penelopiad does several dazzling things at once. First, it delves into a moment of casual brutality and reveals all that the act contains: a practice of sexual violence and gender prejudice our society has not outgrown. But it is also a daring interrogation of Homer's poem, and its counter-narratives - which draw on mythic material not used by Homer - cleverly unbalance the original. This is the case throughout, from the unsettling questions that drive Penelope's tale forward, to more comic doubts about some of The Odyssey's most famous episodes. ('Odysseus had been in a fight with a giant one-eyed Cyclops, said some; no, it was only a one-eyed tavern keeper, said another, and the fight was over non-payment of the bill.' )

In fact, The Penelopiad weaves and unweaves the texture of The Odyssey in several searching ways. The Odyssey was originally a set of songs, for example; the new version's ballads and idylls complement and clash with the original. Thinking more about theme, the maids' voices add a new and unsettling complex of emotions that is missing from Homer. The Penelopiad takes what was marginal and brings it to the centre, where one can see its full complexity.

The same goes for its heroine. Penelope is an important figure in our literary culture, but we have seldom heard her speak for herself. Her sometimes scathing comments in The Penelopiad (about her cousin, Helen of Troy, for example) make us think of Penelope differently - and the way she talks about the twenty-first century, which she observes from Hades, makes us see ourselves anew too.

Margaret Atwood is an astonishing storyteller, and The Penelopiad is, most of all, a haunting and deeply entertaining story. This book plumbs murder and memory, guilt and deceit, in a wise and passionate manner. At time hilarious and at times deeply thought-provoking, it is very much a Myth for our times.

Genre: Fantasy    Get it on Google Play

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Used availability for Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad

Hardback Editions

June 2006 : UK Hardback

Title: The Penelopiad (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-7531-7632-7 / 978-0-7531-7632-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: ISIS Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : UK Hardback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-717-8 / 978-1-84195-717-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : UK Hardback
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Title: The Penelopiad : the Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-645-7 / 978-1-84195-645-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths series)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-676-97418-X / 978-0-676-97418-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

June 2018 : UK Paperback

Title: The Penelopiad (Canons)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-78689-248-0 / 978-1-78689-248-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Canons
Availability: Amazon UK   


April 2012 : UK Paperback

Title: Penelopiad the
Author(s): Atwood Margaret
ISBN: 0-85786-236-7 / 978-0-85786-236-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


January 2007 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-704-6 / 978-1-84195-704-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


August 2007 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad (Faber Drama)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-571-23949-8 / 978-0-571-23949-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


February 2007 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad (Isis General Fiction)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-7531-7633-5 / 978-0-7531-7633-7 (UK edition)
Publisher: ISIS Publishing
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


September 2006 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-798-4 / 978-1-84195-798-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2006 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-676-97425-2 / 978-0-676-97425-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


May 2006 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-811-5 / 978-1-84195-811-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


November 2005 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0-14-400092-X / 978-0-14-400092-0 (UK edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-84195-725-9 / 978-0-7394-6756-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Audio Editions

September 2015 : USA MP3 CD
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths Series)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-5012-9808-9 / 978-1-5012-9808-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


January 2013 : UK Audio CD
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Title: The Penelopiad
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4712-2617-4 / 978-1-4712-2617-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2012 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Penelopiad
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon   


June 2012 : UK Audio edition
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Title: The Penelopiad
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon UK   


August 2011 : USA MP3 CD
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths Series)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4558-3926-4 / 978-1-4558-3926-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


June 2008 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   


June 2008 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


September 2006 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-2108-1 / 978-1-4233-2108-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


September 2006 : USA Audio CD

Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-2109-X / 978-1-4233-2109-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


April 2006 : USA Audio CD
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Title: Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-1763-7 / 978-1-4233-1763-0 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0775-5 / 978-1-4233-0775-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA Audio Cassette
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0776-3 / 978-1-4233-0776-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA Audio CD
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths Series)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0777-1 / 978-1-4233-0777-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA Audio CD
thumb

Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0778-X / 978-1-4233-0778-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA MP3 CD
thumb

Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths Series)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0779-8 / 978-1-4233-0779-2 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2005 : USA MP3 CD
thumb

Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 1-4233-0780-1 / 978-1-4233-0780-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

October 2014 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Penelopiad (Faber Drama)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2010 : Canada Kindle edition
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Availability: Amazon CA   


December 2007 : USA Kindle edition
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (The Myths)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Canongate U.S.
Availability: Amazon   


October 2003 : UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Canongate Myths series Book 2)
Author(s): Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon UK