Madeline Miller Talk

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

 This week I attended an author event and got a chance to meet Madeline Miller. She was brilliant. Funny, clever, engaging, the best-selling author knew how to speak to a crowd with ease. You could tell she’d taught for years and had the ability to make complicated discussions about women in Greek mythology feel relevant and accessible. I adored both of her books, Circe and The Song of Achilles, and can’t wait to see what she writes next. 
 I loved that she answered questions about her writing process and provided details about her research. She talked about how women are frequently made small in mythology and just used to further men’s stories. They are either the wife/mother/daughter of someone or they are a villain. It’s rare to find more meat to a female’s story.

She mentioned two poems, Ulysses by Tennyson and Penelope by Dorothy Parker (below) showing two very different views of their story. 

In the pathway of the sun,
In the footsteps of the breeze,
Where the world and sky are one,
He shall ride the silver seas,
He shall cut the glittering wave.
I shall sit at home, and rock;
Rise, to heed a neighbor's knock;
Brew my tea, and snip my thread;
Bleach the linen for my bed.
They will call him brave.
In Circe she gave voice to a character that was skated over in The Odyssey. She allowed her a messy life with complicated family relationships and a deep empathy toward humans. Miller shared that she directed Shakespeare’s plays in her free time and it took her five years to find each of her main characters’ voices while writing her novels. It was an incredible talk and one that gave an added depth to her work. 
One side note: this was my first night out after having my second kiddo. I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to make it. Sitting there in that beautiful amphitheater and feeling my brain hum as I listened to her fascinating talk gave me so much satisfaction. After you have kids you can often feel like you are missing a piece of yourself. You are exhausted and rarely have time for intellectually stimulating pursuits. I just want to say that it does get better. Making time for the things that are important to you is just crucial. It is NOT easy, but it is so rewarding.

*Photos property of Avid Reader's Musings


Brona said...

I'm very envious of your chance to listen to & meet Miller...did too :-)she drop any hints about the topic of her next book?

Glad you found a night for yourself too :-)

*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

I'm glad you got out & had a bookish night, Melissa! Also, it's good to see you blogging. :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona - She did! She said she's working on two projrects, one dealing with Virgil's Aeneid and another on Shakespeare's Tempest! I'm so excited about both!

Jillian - Thanks! It's been too long.