Thursday, February 6, 2020
4:00- 5:00 pm
Professor Erin Moodie will speak on Madeline Miller's Circe
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child--not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power--the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
An Amazon Best Book of April 2018:
Though revisiting classical myths, Madeline Miller’s bold, poetic new novel, told in the voice of Circe (Odysseus’s lover, famous for turning his sailors into swine), is very much on-trend, with an immortal protagonist and a feminist slant that will make #MeToo-ers cheer. Miller reimagines the story of Circe, “daughter of the sun,” and reinvents her, changing Homer’s ruthless seductress into a woman with a restricted set of godly powers, a keen intelligence, and most important, empathy for humans – a sentiment not shared by her godly relatives. When Circe’s father banishes her to the island of Aiaia, her isolation from her scornful family comes as a gift, and her solitude grants her time to learn the art of witchcraft – the only work she has ever undertaken. “For a hundred generations, I had walked the world, drowsy and dull, idle and at my ease,” she says. “Then I learned that I could bend the world to my will, as a bow is bent for an arrow. I would have done that toil a thousand times to keep such power in my hands.” She summons her skills when a boatload of would-be rapists lands on her shores, but shows Odysseus mercy, and their encounter changes her forever. Back in 2012, Miller’s novel The Song of Achilles
earned the Orange Prize for Fiction. For her many admirers, Circe
is certainly worth the wait. —Sarah Harrison Smith, Amazon Book Review
From School Library Journal
Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, mightiest of the Titans, was a peculiar child who had few of the gifts the demigods enjoyed, and she was despised by her parents and numerous sisters for her deficits. What she lacked in godlike ability, though, she compensated for with a gift for herbology and witchcraft. When she is rejected by her first love, the mortal Glaucos—who pines instead for the beautiful nymph Scylla—Circe casts a spell that turns Scylla into a hideous sea creature. For her transgression, Circe is banished by Zeus to an island, where she survives alone until Odysseus, "son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks," lands upon her shores and is seduced by her. Drawing on the mythology of the classical world, Miller deftly weaves episodes of war, treachery, monsters, gods, demigods, heroes, and mortals into her second novel of the ancient world (after the Orange Prize—winning The Song of Achilles). Prometheus and Medea are among those who also make an appearance here. VERDICT This absorbing and atmospheric read will appeal to lovers of Greek mythology.—Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK