Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Penelopiad

Two thoughts:

In reading the Penelopiad, the most difficult thing for me was making sure that it did not colour my interpretation of the Odyssey; I was trying to write an essay on the Odyssey, not on the Penelopiad. The problem is that this is exactly what Atwood is trying to achieve by writing the Penelopiad: to challenge our interpretations of the Odyssey. Did anyone else find this difficult while they were writing their essays? Would it perhaps be more worthwhile to read the Odyssey and the Penelopiad together, as we did with Genesis and Fear and Trembling? Also, could the Penelopiad be considered a secondary opinion on the Odyssey? Should it then be read not as a separate text, but as supplementary material to the Odyssey?

The thing that struck me most about the text was Atwood’s voice. She writes with a very wry wit that I find quite distinctive. While I did love her humour and style, it led me to wonder whether or not we were hearing from Penelope or from Atwood. I think by dragging Penelope into the modern era she was able to get away with writing in her own voice, but I also wonder if that limits it as a reading of the Odyssey from a different perspective. It certainly sounds like Atwood’s interpretation of the text, but I wonder if Penelope is truly given a voice. Perhaps this is a particularly subversive way of simultaneously countering and supporting a feminist reading of the Odyssey, sort of like the Anthropology lecture.