Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Salon: An Iliad part 1.

At the moment I am reading two books: THE HOUSE IN PARIS by Elizabeth Bowen (I started this months ago, and although I really love it - I keep getting distracted) and the other is AN ILIAD by Alessandro Baricco (translated by Ann Goldstein), which I started this morning.

The first chapter is written from the point of view of Chryseis, a beautiful woman who causes bad feeling between Achilles and Agamemnon. Agamemnon takes Chryseis as a spoil of war and refuses to give her back when her father asks. When this brings on a curse, Achilles demands that Agamemnon gives her back, but Agamemnon doesn't like it and they fall out. Chryseis is, however, returned to her father, and Agamemnon demands Briseis, Achilles's woman, in compensation.

Although the narrative tends to concentrate on the attitudes of the men, the women are considered briefly too: Briseis is sad to leave Achilles, and Chryseis is left sleeping alongside her father dreaming of 'dust weapons, riches and young heroes.' She seems to be yearning to be back with the 'king of kings' who 'throws to the winds his life and his people, for me: for my beauty and my charms.' Conceited woman.

Although I dislike Chryseis, I am slightly dismayed to see that the next chapter is written in a different voice. I would have liked to hear more - but maybe she's said enough.


Blogger Marie Cloutier said...

The book sounds interesting but the woman's voice almost sounds like a male-chauvanist's idea of what a woman in that position would think. Wouldn't she also maybe be frightened, miss her family, etc.? Sounds very one-sided. *shrug* And thanks for visiting my blog! I'm looking forward to finishing the Yellin book. :-)

Sun Jun 01, 01:09:00 pm  
Blogger kristen said...

After teaching The Iliad, I would LOVE to read it from another perspective -- thank you for your review. I hadn't heard of An Iliad yet!

Sun Jun 01, 01:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my few possessions from my childhood which I still have is my collection of The Iliad, The Odyssey and The Aeneid "retold" by Barbara Leonie Pickard, which I read so many times when I was a girl. Your post makes me want to read them again. I've also got the Ted Hughes version of one of these poems (I forget which, sorry), which I also must read one of these days as I love his poetry.

Sun Jun 01, 03:35:00 pm  
Blogger Nyssaneala said...

Elizabeth Bowen keeps popping up on my radar, I'll have to read her soon!

btw, I came to your blog via the Salon. I found I was sticking with the same blogs I always visit, and wanted to branch out a little! Happy Sunday!

Sun Jun 01, 04:52:00 pm  
Blogger Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

Hello fellow Saloner! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for the nice comments you left. Please do read MAGICAL THINKING - I'd love to hear your propective on it. Maybe I took it all wrong. I really wanted to like that book. Also, I posted a photo of my kitty for you to see. See you at the Salon!

Sun Jun 01, 05:13:00 pm  

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