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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Novels Inspired by Myths

On Thursday (Jan. 14), I listed 30 titles of novels inspired by well-known fiction/classics.  On September 1 and October 10, I discussed Shakespeare-themed novels.  Today I thought I'd focus on some novels based on ancient myths.

The Canongate Myth Series is a series of short novels in which myths from myriad cultures are re-imagined and re-written by contemporary authors.  

The series begins with A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong.  A history of myth is a history of humanity, Karen Armstrong argues in this book: our stories and beliefs, our attempts to understand the world, link us to our ancestors and each other. This is an introduction to myth in the broadest sense – from Palaeolithic times to the “Great Western Transformation” of the last 500 years.

Here are some of the titles in the series:
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood has the myth of Odysseus told by his wife Penelope.
Weight by Jeannette Winterson re-tells the myth of Atlas and Heracles.
The Helmet of Horror by Victor Pelevin is a cyber-age re-telling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Lion’s Honey by David Grossman is an examination of the story of the Biblical Samson to look into what the life of this extraordinary man must have been like.
Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith is about the Celtic god of dreams; in this version, Angus is a Scottish psychotherapist who helps people understand their dreams
Girl Meets Boy by Ali Smith re-tells the gender-shifting myths of Iphis from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Where Three Roads Meet by Salley Vickers brings Sigmund Freud together with Tiresias for a retelling of the Oedipus myth.
The Fire Gospel by Michael Faber is a re-vamping of the Prometheus myth.
Ragnarok by A. S. Byatt re-tells the finale of Norse mythology.
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman is a re-telling of the life of Jesus.