"And as we swam, or played, or talked, a feeling would come. It was almost like fear, in the way it filled me, rising in my chest. It was almost like tears, in how swiftly it came. But it was neither of those, buoyant where they were heavy, bright where they were dull."
I'm not crying, just drowning in my own tears. I tought it wouldn't happen considering that this book is a retelling, and I'm not that huge fan of this genre. And yet since the first chapter I was already hooked, madly in love with a couple that hadn't been born yet. I delighted witnessing Achilles and Patroclus grow up and fall in love, and I suffered with them during the hard times. Suffered a lot.
I knew how it would end since I studied the Iliad at school, but while reading I was in a state of complete denial even as I reached the "worst" part of the story. I still hoped that things would turn another way, but I ended up weeping anyway.
What I probably enjoyed the most (apart of the adorable and sweet romance between Achilles and Patroclus of course!) was without any doubt the stunning character development. It really left me speechless seeing how Patroclus transformed from a weak, envious and scared boy into a decisive, corageous, skillful and strong man. Even more striking was Achilles' evolution. At the end I was totally in love with him, therefore I was really heartbroken to witness how war and research of glory changed him in worse. But the final blow was seeing what grief did to him.
And though I'm aware that the original work is of course different from this retelling, I can't help but thinking that from now on I will look at the Iliad from another point of view. Not just an old, boring story in verses, but something living, almost real. All this thanks to the smooth, delicate Madeline Miller's style that managed to make modern a story belonging to such a far culture and history, giving a face and a voice to the characters and making them impossible not to love....Continua
La canzone di Achille è stata la mia lettura principale di agosto: portata avanti tra i miei vari spostamenti vacanzieri, mi ha dato una strana dimensione locale, un aura di partecipazione agli eventi che solo le avventure epiche sanno conferire. Ciò detto, questa è un'intimizzazione e una youngadultizzazione della storia di Achille e Patroclo, narrata da quest'ultimo in prima persona, con uno stile molto semplice e vagamente ruffiano (cerca di strappare lacrime a più riprese) e trasforma in un clima un po' da soap quelle che nell'immaginario comune (e nella realtà epica) erano innanzitutto delle rudi questioni d'onore tipicamente maschili. Sinceramente non mi sono mai trovata ad ipotizzare che la relazione tra Achille e Patroclo avesse un profilo così smielato: i legami tra uomini nell'antica grecia avevano un profilo molto più ruvido, più "poche ciance". Detto ciò, è una scelta ed è portata avanti con coerenza e con avvincente convinzione fino alla fine. Fosse stato pubblicato come young adult, probabilmente potrebbe qualificarsi come un piccolo capolavoro del genere, ma come romanzo per tutte le fasce d'età perde smalto appunto per mancanza di spontaneità e esubero di buoni sentimenti, specie per una vicenda guerresca cruenta ed epica come la storia dell'Iliade. Ottimamente tratteggiato il personaggio di Odisseo, che è sempre il mio preferito. 3 stelle e 1/2...Continua
Tra dei e dee, ninfe e centauri, semidei e miti vari, raccontati con tale naturalezza da renderli persino plausibili, si finisce con l'affezionarsi a questo Achille, invincibile eroe dall'animo tenero e cortese e del suo compagno Patroclo, "pacifista" antelitteram,costretto, suo malgrado, a scendere nell'agone per amore. Una rivisitazione storica per dirci che Giovinezza e Amore sono i soli "dei" attorno a cui da sempre tutto ruota e ci lascia ancora una volta lì a riflettere se sia meglio vivere un giorno d'amore o cent'anni di rassegnazione....Continua
Here is my comment in my Spanish Blog: http://lunairereadings.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-song-of-achilles-by-madeline-miller.html
In this novel Madeline Miller describes the evolution of the loving friendship between Achiles and Patroclus. We listen to Patroclus telling us how he met Achiles, how he shared a lot of things with him, how he met his mother (a godess), and how he has developed such a deep love to his friend that he was eager to give up his life for him. We also learn how deeply Achiles loved Patroculs and how beautiful that kind of fraternal love is. It also has very vivid and defined scenes of battles and wars, and some great romantic scenes. I really enjoyed it.
I typically have lower interest in Greek mythology. But I was interested to read The Song of Achilles because:
- The author spent 10 years writing this as her debut novel referencing various classical texts… sounds like a tedious amount of data processing as well as tenacity or vision not to give up after the first couple of years
-- The writer used classical texts by Ovid, Virgil, Sophocles, Apollodorus, Euripides and Aeschylus to help her with the plot, as well as accounts of Achilles' childhood friendship with Patroclus and his martial training. Miller also uses quotes from Homer in the text.
- It won the Orange Prize for Fiction for its original retelling of a tale into a romance without losing accuracy
- The tale was told from the first person perspective of Patroclus. This first person narration continues even after the character’s death in the book.
-- She …found Patroclus "tantalizing" because he is a minor character that later had a "big impact" on the outcome of the Trojan War.
-- She said it was "very important to me to stay faithful to the events of Homer’s narrative. The central inspiration behind the book is the terrible moment in the Iliad when Achilles hears about Patroclus’ death. His reaction is shocking in its intensity. The great half-god warrior—who carelessly defies rules, and condemns a whole army to death—comes completely unglued, desperate with grief and rage. I wanted to understand what it was about Patroclus and their relationship that could create that kind of crisis. Although Homer tells us what his characters do, he doesn’t tell us much of why they do it. Who was Achilles? And why did he love Patroclus so much? Writing the novel was my way of answering that question."
The tale started out blandly enough with Patroclus as the narrator since he was not a terribly appealing child. But the gradual characterisation of the various characters does feel more engaging as the story progresses. The book could be shorter but overall it presents a easy to read and digestible spin to Achilles' tale, which can only help make Greek mythology accessible to more readers.
I have minimal comments on the gay relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Patroclus could just as easily have been female to me (maybe females speak different at that time and age but I wouldn’t know to know the difference right?), the dialog can still apply and and the story doesn’t change. Alright, it changes a bit cause then he couldn’t have been an exiled prince. What I’m trying to say is that Patroclus as a pretty pacifist character comes across as pretty gender neutral. And despite this being a romance, it doesn’t really stand out as a gay romance. Patroclus could have been Patricia for all I care.
What left me a deeper impression was really more how Patroclus’ narrative was able to share the angst of Achilles, seemingly a bright and carefree child was forced and bound by parental interference, political scheming and fate to embark on a war which he is prophesied not to return from and how his character develops from there.
Patroclus himself, a character that started with many flaws, he outgrows them towards the end of the book in noble sacrifice to become the best of the Myrmidons. Ironically, in this story about Achilles, the character of Patroclus has been elevated much more. If they were two lines of a graph plotted to show maturity and spirit, Patroclus will be rising through time, and conversely Achilles’ will be falling through time. I think Madeline has drawn out this correlation really well to achieve her aims of exploring Patroclus:
"In writing this novel, I thought a lot about personal responsibility. Patroclus is not an epic person, the way Achilles is. He’s an “ordinary” man. But he has more power than he thinks, and the moments where he reaches out to others and offers what he sees as his very modest assistance have huge positive ramifications. Most of us aren’t Achilles—but we can still be Patroclus. What does it mean to try to be an ethical person in a violent world?"
By the end one only feels sorry for the tragic, vengeful hero that is Achilles, who is left to deal with the fall out from Patroclus death ( and probably from Achilles’ own earlier skirmishes with Agamemnon and Odysseus).
Some description of the author I found online - Madeline Miller is an American novelist, whose debut novel The Song of Achilles was released in September 2011. Miller spent ten years writing The Song of Achilles, while she worked as a Latin and Greek teacher. The novel is set in Greece and tells the story of a love affair between Achilles and Patroclus. In May 2012, The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making Miller the fourth debut novelist to win the prize.
I referenced various articles and interviews, the verbatim is quoted....Continua