CIRCE Reviews & Opinions
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I was never a Greek mythology scholar and and most of what I once knew from needed reading at school has been lost to a faulty memory. What I'm now left with is very general, sketchy knowledge. Take Circe, for example. She's still there in my memory bank, but just broadly as a witchy woman living on an island who turned Odysseus' men into pigs when they stopped off on their method home to Ithaca after the Trojan Madeline Miller, who is an actual classics scholar, fills out Circe's life to create her more real, with feelings, motivations, life experiences that created her into that witch who was so inhospitable to sailors. Matter of fact, Miller's Circe, if she were around today, might well be a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement. After all, if some men are going to behave like pigs, imagine the satisfaction of turning them into the true thing.We are first introduced to Circe, a very minor Greek goddess who tells her story in 1st person POV, as a young girl, daughter of Helios, Titan god of the sun and Perse, an Oceanid naiad. For being god of the sun, Helios is a beautiful cold and distant father, and Perse is a particularly unkind mother who favors her other kids over Circe. And those other children, in particular the twins Pasiphae and Perses, are cruel to is it any wonder that Circe, although a goddess, is drawn to the company of mortals? Her first romantic crush is the fisherman Glaucos, who is friendly to her. She falls so in love with him that she begs her father, and then her grandmother, to create him a god so they can live together forever. No luck there, so Circe, ever determined, turns to witchcraft and does it herself. Well, that doesn't turn out as well as she would have liked, since Glaucos becomes a rather full-of-himself god who falls in love with a much lovelier nymph than Circe. Unlucky in love and resentful of the other nymph, Circe again turns to witchcraft, this time to take her revenge on this Other Woman. What happens next is Miller's take on how a very well-known and particularly vicious sea creature came into existence.Well, "pharmaka", or witchcraft, is frowned upon by Zeus, so he has Helios exile Circe to the island of Aiaia, to live a solitary life. And it is here that Circe begins to fully develop her skills with herbs and plants and her abilities to cast spells. We all know how that impacted a portion of Homer's The Odyssey. What I didn't think about when reading that classic is the why of her actions. That's what Miller is interested in and that's what makes this a compelling read. The author creates a fully-fleshed-out Circe. We see how her life experiences have informed her character. Part of this contains her love life, with three mortal lovers and one god who becomes an untrustworthy mate with we read Circe's acc of her life, we search her meeting up with a lot of popular mythological characters. There are encounters with Prometheus, Daedalus and Icarus, Hermes, Minos and Pasiphae, the Minotaur, Jason and Medea, Athena, Penelope and Telemachus, and different and sundry other gods, mortals and monsters. Miller doesn't strictly follow well-known myth storyline, giving Circe more active participation in a lot of happenings, such as the Minotaur's containment, or her interactions with Daedalus, or how the sea creature Scylla met her destruction, for example, but they're just myths anyway. Why not play around with them a little?So there may be a slight amount of revisionist mythology here, especially by giving motivations and feelings and depth to Circe and playing around slightly with some of the stories, but this gives the book more relevance to modern day themes of women, their treatment, their reactions, and their burgeoning empowerment. This all makes for a compelling read. Who doesn't have fun a amazing tale of gods, creatures and mortals? And the tale is told in lovely, descriptive prose, at time lush. Characters are well drawn and the pace never lagged for me. A amazing read from beginning to end.
As an old man who has devoured the Greek myths since earliest youth, I can only say Thank you Madeline Miller for another fabulous read, for sharing rarest talent, underlying goodness, and simply lovely ere is a reason the ancient myths have proved immortal. We are still enchanted by them because they speak to our longings, our aspirations, our humanity and indeed to our higher angels--completely free of dogma. Circe’s autobiography wondrously reimagines it all and stitches it all together.
Inspired. Lyrical. Erudite. Fun.I have both Madeline Miller's Kindle ver and the ASTONISHING companion audible book narrated by Perdita Weeks. In truth, you will really wish both. I followed along in the Kindle as I listened. I frequently stopped the narration to luxuriate in one of Miller's translucent passages, reading it over and over ler's writing and descriptions flow like a stream across waterfall rocks, burbling and splashing and happy. Bejeweled writing. Bewitching writing.And no one brings that to life as Perdita Weeks does.Her quiet, whispery voice; her inflections; her cadences complement Miller's writing in ways that are difficult to explain. (You'll also appreciate Weeks' pronunciation of myriad Ancient Greek names and places).Miller (read her bio) has found an unexplored niche in the popular Homeric poems that most of us have read. She finds those small "throw away" locations in the stories and asks, "but why? What else happened here?" Women, who usually obtain short shrift from Homer, are fully formed and fleshed in Miller's of Achilles was imaginative, filling in the backstories of Achilles and Patrocles to "round out" the tales where Homer left gaping Circe, however, Miller takes a minor encounter between Circe and Odysseus (at least compared to the 7 year detour he had with Calypso) and, using her detailed knowledge of the stories and of the Greek and Latin languages, constructs compelling and interesting backstories. In the end, she recasts all the characters in a new, more human light.I highly recommend both Miller's book and Weeks audio ver as companion pieces. One without the other is cheating the reader of a truly memorable experience.
This book caught me by surprise. I was swept up in the tale of Circe, a goddess, and amazed by the easy truths of human life revealed. Madeline Miller captured both the beauty and bitter futility of being human, and I will be philosophically turning these thoughts over in my head for years to come. Timeless masterpiece that will only become sweeter with each read.
If you have had it with the toil and problem of life in 2018, escape to an island of endless magic with a too-human demigoddess. Madeline Miller’s Circe weaves its own ough Circe is born of the Titan Helios and a nymph, she suffers from feelings all too human. She lacks confidence as most young women do. But she is destined to be forever e impetuously offer support to a mortal (Prometheus) and uses her magic to punish the nymph Scylla. Helios agrees that his rebellious daughter should be banished from the halls of the rce’s life begins in earnest as she learns to live on her own island, Aiaia. Alone, she toys with seashells, flowers, herbs, and more magic. She sings her songs to please herself. Though Hermes drops by to dally with her feelings and teach her bedroom arts, Circe is somewhat content. A shipwrecked squad impels her to use her magic for self-protection and even retribution.Enter another shipwreck some time later, this one carrying Odysseus. Whether you are a scholar of the classics or only vaguely remember some of the incidents of The Odyssey, Miller uses the relationship between Circe and Odysseus to develop fresh feelings within the ancient l that spins out is foreordained. Yet, I felt an urgent need to know how and why such things would happen. Even when Odysseus is sent on his way, the echoes of the love between Circe and Odysseus continue to weave their e ending to this magical journey, a closing Telemachia, held me spellbound. After finishing the book, I read the whole book over again. This is my method with books that enrapture me. I must read it again, more slowly, for the pure pleasure of the artistry as well as the surprises and action of the rce is a book of endless wonders. Thank you, Madeline Miller, for this deep and twisted tale of love and fate. This book follows her Song of Achilles (The lliad), which is equally compelling.
Today I’ll be reviewing Circe, which is by the same author who wrote The Song of Achilles. Even though I had the eARC since…forever, I actually didn’t read this until release day. Before I go into my review (if I even know how to DO that anymore), I wish to mention that I literally read this all in one day. So if anything, you should at least take away that it was THAT good. But, this honestly might just be me. I’m currently in a Greek mythology phase at the moment, with playing God of Battle and all, and so maybe I enjoyed Circe so much because I was in the right mood.Let’s talk about Circe. For one, she’s awesome, not doubt about it. Yet, this is the first time I've heard about her story, as I never read Odysseus in high school (let alone spell it). And though I do know the primary storyline of Odysseus, this is my first time learning about Circe. Well, the author’s take of the story, at least. But nevertheless, the author tells it as if it were really part of Greek Things I Liked:• This book is all about Circe. And she is awesome, as I’ve mentioned before.• How Circe’s life prospered even though she was all alone on an island, thanks to Zeus. And her relationship with everyone who visited her• In regards to these relationships, the people and gods Circe met were from various myths. Though I’m not overly familiar with them, the stories of the Minotaur, Medea, Daedalus & Icarus, and Odysseus all intertwined with Circe’s. Honestly the only thing I know about Icarus is from a song by Bastille, so that’s how I obtain my Greek mythology.Overall, even though I have no idea how close this compares to the actual mythology, I fell in love with this book. It’s definitely a fresh favorite. And I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loved The Song of Achilles, or just loves mythology in general (in which that case, read both).
After having fallen in love with Miller based on her Somg of Achilles, I began this book with amazing anticipation. And I eagerly waited for a heroine-goddess, feminist for our time, to emerge. And I waited, and waited, and waited... until about 60% through the book (Kindles are such handy devices), when I finally grew so tired of Circe that I just couldn’t go on, in spite of the fine prose. This is a nymph who spends the first 40% of the book being kicked around by Titans and other nymphs and who, upon being rejected by her first crush, takes her jealousy out on the object of his lust rather on the jerk himself - thereby creating a creature who ends up killing untold thousands. Yeah, she regrets it, for about three sentences. Later, she becomes a strong witch who mostly uses her power to turn all the men who land on her island - every one of whom we are to read as presumptive thieves and rapists - into pigs and killing them. She shares her island with other nymphs, but not a single one of them, we are given to understand, is with her time or attention. So much for passing the Bechdel test, at least during that phase of her existence. I stopped reading when she found Odysseus and went all love-struck - I couldn’t shake the feeling that this alleged strong, strong woman was falling into the “yes, I am strong, until I meet an even stronger man” trope. Ugh.I am clearly in the minority in my view, so take my review with a grain of salt, I guess. The prose is lovely, to be sure. But the story plods and the protagonist is, at the end of the day, a huge yawn for me.