Mar. 19th, 2013

tehta: (ecthelion and glorfindel)
I suspect that I am the very last person in this corner of fandom to hear about The Song of Achilles, last year's Orange-prize-winning novel about, well, Achilles. And Patroclus, who, in this interpretation, is NOT his cousin. If you know what I mean. And most of you do.

Anyway, I have finally heard of it, and moreover, purchased it and read it. And now I feel compelled to share my thoughts on it with the internet. So, here goes:

  • I did enjoy it.
  • It is well-written. Not brilliant, but reasonably impressive.
  • But I cannot help thinking of it as fanfiction for the Illiad. (Hilariously, the review I linked to above says the same thing -- citing Sam and Frodo!)
  • And, if I judge it by the same standards I apply to fanfiction... it falls short. I can think of several fics I find more compelling, and just as well-written.
  • I guess I feel that it lacks a certain edge. I think this is VERY related to some discussions I have been having with [ profile] wulfila lately, about the ideal of the noble, beautiful hero, and the question of whether we should be writing them. One of the claims I made was that the most popular heroes fall far from this ideal, and I gave the examples of Lancelot, Maedhros -- and Achilles. A different claim I forgot to make was that actual idealized heroes would be boring to read about. Well, I feel like this book idealizes Achilles so much that it makes him boring. (It does keep Odysseus interesting -- but then an author would have to be truly incompetent to mess up such a great character.)
  • I guess I also feel that it is overshadowed by the Iliad. Shocking, I know. But it's like the Iliad is painted in a wide range of colours, vivid and muted, light and dark, and this book is a small pale study in pastels.
  • Anyway, the specifics of The Song of Achilles aside -- the whole experience of reading something so lauded, and so comparable to fanfiction, really made me realize just how rich our playground is, here, and how lucky I am to have found it. Go fandom!

And now that I have bored everyone, I would like to draw people's attention to the gay claymation version of the Iliad. I know I have linked to it before, but it remains fabulous and awesome.

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