Book review: 'Circe' by Madeline Miller

Molly Taylor tells us about 'Circe', Madeline Miller's feminist redressal of the Classics

Molly Taylor
5th November 2020
As Lockdown 2.0 sets in, Molly Taylor gives her thoughts on Madeline Miller's modern classic, and how it helped her through the last one.

With university having just started again, for many of us it seems like free time was something we took advantage of over lockdown. I find that reading can help me relax and destress, while still giving me a sense of purpose and productivity.

And what better way to feel productive than to get wrapped up in the fantastic feminist novel that is Madeline Miller’s Circe.

John William Waterhouse's 'Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus'
via Wikipedia

Miller transforms the Greek myth of Circe, a witch who originally appears in Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, by presenting the tale from a largely female perspective, rather than the usual androcentric (male) viewpoint, which we are often shown in ancient texts. The novel follows the tale of how Circe is exiled to a solitary island, and how she comes to meet Odysseus. While these myths may appear esoteric or inaccessible, Miller allows us to understand them to a greater extent, as she writes from a contemporary perspective, and therefore approaches the story from a largely modern and feminist angle. By using these themes, Miller presents Circe not as merely an evil enchantress, but rather a product of the patriarchal society at the time. This refreshingly modern take on a traditional story makes for a great read, and is a novel I really enjoyed over lockdown.

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