Replenishing the Odyssey: Margaret Atwood’s and John Barth’s Postmodern Epics

  • Bojana Aćamović Institute for Literature and the Arts
Keywords: Margaret Atwood, John Barth, postmodernism, mythology, Odyssey

Abstract

The paper focuses on Margaret Atwood’s novel The Penelopiad and John Barth’s short stories “Menelaiad” and “Anonymiad,” comparing the approaches of the two authors in their postmodernist retellings of Homer’s Odyssey. Both Atwood and Barth base their narratives on minor episodes from this epic, with its less prominent or unnamed characters assuming the roles of the narrators. Using different postmodernist techniques, the authors experiment with the form and content of the narration, combine different genres, and demythologize the situations and characters. In their re-evaluations and reinterpretations of the Odyssey, they create works which epitomize Barth’s notion of postmodernist fiction as a literature of replenishment. The comparative analysis presented in this paper aims to highlight the ways in which Atwood and Barth challenge the old and add new perspectives on Homer’s epic, at the same time confirming its relevance in the postmodern context.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Atwood, Margaret. 2006. The Penelopiad. Edinburgh, London: Canongate.

Barth, John. 1984. The Friday Book: Essays and Other Non-Fiction. London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

—. 1988. Lost in the Funhouse. New York: Anchor Books.

Davies, Madeleine. 2006. “Margaret Atwood’s Female Bodies.” In The Cambridge Companion to Margaret Atwood, edited by Coral Ann Howells, 58–71. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dell’abate-Çelebi, Barbara. 2016. Penelope’s Daughters. Lincoln, Nebraska: Zea Books.

González, Cristina Garrigós. 2000. “Speaking of Myth. An Interview with John Barth.” REDEN. Revista Española de Estudios Norteamericanos 19–20: 201–8.

Homer. 1996. The Odyssey. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York: Viking.

Hutcheon, Linda. 2004. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. New York, London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Hyde, Lewis. 1998. Trickster Makes This World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Jung, Susanne. 2014/2015. “‘A Chorus Line’: Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad at the Crossroads of Narrative, Poetic and Dramatic Genres.” Connotations 24 (1): 41–62.

Marlowe, Christopher. (1604) 1967. Doctor Faustus. Edited by Roma Gill. London: Ernest Benn.

Nicol, Bran. 2009. The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodern Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rosen, Jeremy. 2016. Minor Characters Have Their Day: Genre and the Contemporary Literary Marketplace. New York: Columbia University Press.

Suzuki, Mihoko. 1989. Metamorphoses of Helen: Authority, Difference, and the Epic. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

Tonkin, Boyd. 2005. “Margaret Atwood: A personal odyssey and how she rewrote Homer.” Independent, October 28, 2005. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/margaret-atwood-a-personal-odyssey-and-how-she-rewrote-homer-322675.html.

Vautier, Marie. 1998. New World Myth: Postmodernism and Postcolonialism in Canadian Fiction. Montreal & Kingston, London, Buffalo: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Published
2020-05-26
How to Cite
AćamovićB. (2020). Replenishing the Odyssey: Margaret Atwood’s and John Barth’s Postmodern Epics. ELOPE: English Language Overseas Perspectives and Enquiries, 17(1), 41-55. https://doi.org/10.4312/elope.17.1.41-55
Section
Articles