Circe: On 3 May 2018 the award-winning author Madeline Miller will talk about her latest novel,  the powerful story of the mythological figure Circe, the first witch of western literature.

Madeline Miller c Nina Subin crop

This blog provides links to reviews and interviews as background to this event.

Reviews of Circe

The Observer: Circe by Madeline Miller review – Greek classic thrums with contemporary relevance – Alex Preston 8 April 2018

… Miller has made a collage out of a variety of source materials – from Ovid to Homer to another lost epic, the Telegony – but the guiding instinct here is to re-present the classics from the perspective of the women involved in them, and to do so in a way that makes these age-old texts thrum with contemporary relevance.

Washington Post: The original nasty woman is a goddess for our times – Ron Charles 9 April 2018

We know how everything here turns out — we’ve known it for thousands of years — and yet in Miller’s lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected. The feminist light she shines on these events never distorts their original shape; it only illuminates details we hadn’t noticed before.

The Guardian:  Circe by Madeline Miller review – myth, magic and single motherhood – Aida Edemariam 21 April 2018

Miller… knows that, as with the best magical realism, the real power doesn’t lie in the ostensible facts of the narrative, but in its psychology. And that is where Miller anchors her story – in the emotional life of a woman… Miller has taken the familiar materials of character, and wrought some satisfying turns of her own.

The Independent: Circe, Madeline Miller, review: Feminist rewrite of the Odyssey turns tale of subjugation into one of empowerment – Lucy Scholes 18 April 2018

Written in prose that ripples with a gleaming hyperbole befitting the epic nature of the source material, there is nothing inaccessible or antiquated about either Circe or her adventures. Miller has effected a transformation just as impressive as any of her heroine’s own: she’s turned an ancient tale of female subjugation into one of empowerment and courage full of contemporary resonances.

NPR: ‘Circe’ Gives The Witch Of The Odyssey A New Life – Annalise Quinn 11 April 2018

A classics teacher, Miller is clearly on intimate terms with the Greek poem. The character of Circe only occupies a few dozen lines of it, but Miller extracts worlds of meaning from Homer’s short phrases… Miller makes Circe’s human voice the beginning of a (fraught, because inherently temporary) kinship with mortals that is one of the novel’s loveliest strains.

Interviews with Madeline Miller

New York Times: Circe, a Vilified Witch From Classical Mythology, Gets Her Own Epic – Alexandra Alter 6 April 2018

Epic has been so traditionally male…. All these stories are composed by men, largely starring men, and I really wanted a female perspective.

NPR: ‘Circe’ Gets A New Motivation – Barrie Hardyman 15 April 2018

One of the things that I wanted is I wanted Circe’s story to resonate with one of the major themes of “The Odyssey,” Odysseus’ yearning for home. And I wanted Circe’s story to be animated by a similar longing for home. But she doesn’t have it so easy as Odysseus does. Odysseus knows what home is. It’s Ithaca. It’s Penelope. But Circe has to not only yearn for home and find home, but she has to discover. She has to decide what that home is and make that home for herself.

Book Riot: Writing of Gods and Mortals: A Madeline Miller Interview – Nikki Vanry 19 April 2018

I also think that, particularly for women, there is such a conflict between wanting to help and being taken advantage of. So often this impulse to care for and nurture others can be abused and exploited. So, Circe must navigate that as well. How can I keep myself, but also give myself at the same time?

Image credit: Nina Subin