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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

August 24, 2012

Book Review Coming Soon

Once again, I am indebted to my friends at HarperCollins for forwarding an interesting novel my way. I hope to have a review posted within the next week or so. 

Madeline Miller is a debut author and recent winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction (an award celebrating "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world"). Not a bad go for a first time novelist.

To students of Greek Mythology (Anyone? Anyone?), Miller's yarn will be a familiar one. The book, titled The Song of Achilles, is a retelling of the Iliad, which places a special emphasis on the relationship between Patroclus and his Achilles.

Some may recall that Patroclus was the exiled son of Menoetius. During his exile, Patroclus was raised by Chiron, King of the Centaurs - a king of savages according to Greek Mythology.  By contrast, Achilles was the "golden son" of King Peleus, his mother the Sea Goddess Thetis. The specific element Miller explores is how a relatively awkward "nobody" can strike up such a beautiful friendship with the "best of all the Greeks."

In her own words, Miller writes:

I was fascinated by this man [Patroclus] whose loss had so devastated the great Achilles. I wanted to understand their connection, and why such an "ordinary" man matter so much.

Seeing as yours truly is perhaps the epitome of ordinary - the Joe Sixpack of Joe Sixpacks - I too am quite curious to see what conclusions Miller draws. As always, more to come.  

For those interested, The Song of Achilles is available in hardback on Amazon here. It will be released to the public in paperback form by Ecco/HarperCollins on August 28, 2012. 

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