- Now that the movie is out, some might like to read or re-read this book wh I
reviewed some time ago for MYTHPRINT:
Subj:ACHILLES, by Elizabeth Cook
Hardcover: 128 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.56 x 7.82 x 5.58
Publisher: Picador USA; ISBN: 0312288840; 1st picado edition (February 2002)
..snip.... ACHILLES by Elizabeth Cook, a book which seems to breathe the
blazing Mediterranean heat, the cruelty, the terror and the glory of ancient
days. Cook's style is generally chaste, pure, poetic in a spare way, though
with a few startlingly slangy Americanisms, and (be warned) with some
explicit descriptions of sex and violence.
This slim volume is not so much a novel as a collection of impressions. We
see the Greek hero of heroes, one might say, as if reflected in a series of
polished bronze mirrors. About him are gathered Odysseus, the survivor who
offers to his shade; Hector, the man Achilles was born to fight; Deidamia,
with whom Achilles played when he "was hid among women"; Chiron, his
teacher, a sad and suffering figure who evokes our deep sympathy; and
others. Last, we view Achilles, in a sort of postcript, in the musings of
the British poet who once memorably "looked into Chapman's Homer."
But most enthralling of all is Thetis, the sea-goddess who was Achilles'
mother. Like a fish, like a wave, like a fire, she twists and glides
through these pages as she, shape-changing, glided through Peleus' arms,
when he sought to wed her; the description of their coupling is the most
memorable passage of all. And what must be the grief of an immortal mother
who sees her mortal son die, who gathers his bones from the pyre - the son
whom she had sought in vain to make immortal?