I can’t tell you how excited I am to have stumbled on the Canongate Myth Series. I was looking for information on Margaret Atwood, because I love her, and one of the most recent books she’s written was a book in this series.

Basically the idea is that various authors revisit myths and retell them. Think Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, except not Biblical. Atwood’s contribution to the series is The Penelopiad, a re-telling of the Iliad from Odysseus’ wife (Penelope)’s point of view. Instead of focusing on the battles, we get to find out exactly how she resisted all the suitors those twenty years her husband was gone, and whether she got frustrated about pulling out her weaving every night, only to redo it the next day.

I’m fascinated by this concept, because I’ve always loved myths. But I also love having my notions of them challenged. Any work that deconstructs myths, especially if it rebuilds them again, will always get my attention. Cheesy as it may be, I’ve always loved Agatha Christie’s The Labors of Hercules, in which she puts her famous creation, Hercule Poirot, to twelve tests that mimic Hera’s punishment of Hercules.

The Canongate series also passes the world literature test. In addition to several Greek legends (including Heracles, in fact), the series also treats the myth of Aengus from Ireland (which also earns heritage points from me), the biblical Samson, and the Chinese Great Wall myth.

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