A Penelopean Poetics

Reweaving the Feminine in Homer's Odyssey

By (author) Barbara Clayton

Publication date:

29 January 2004

Length of book:

152 pages

Publisher

Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739107225

A Penelopean Poetics looks at the relationship between gender ideology and the self-referential poetics of the Odyssey through the figure of Penelope. She is a cunning story-teller; her repeated reweavings of Laertes' shroud a figurative replication of the process of oral poetic composition itself. Penelope's web is thus a discourse and it can be construed specifically as feminine. Her gendered poetics celebrates process, multiplicity, and ambiguity and it resists phallocentric discourse by undermining stable and fixed meanings. Penelope's poetics become a discursive thread through which different feminine voices can realize their resistant capacities. Author Barbara Clayton's work contributes to discussions in the classics as well as literary criticism, sex and gender studies, and women's studies.
In A Penelopean Poetics, Barbara Clayton defines the true texture of Homer's Odyssey. Carefully attending to the warp and woof of recent scholarship on Greek epic and oral poetry as well as recent psychoanalytic and feminist criticism, Clayton beautifully and simply identifies precisely those threads in the weave of the poem that are most Penelopean in their subtle cunning. In her surprising yet persuasive new reading, Odysseus and Homer emerge as most themselves when they are most like Penelope.