The Grief of Penelope: Quotes from “The Penelopiad”

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The Penelopiad is a 2005 novella by Margaret Atwood. It chronicles the life of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, as she awaits his return from the Trojan War. Odysseus was gone for 20 years, 10 of which he spent fighting in the Trojan War, and the last 10 of which he spent lost at sea trying to find his way back home from Troy. Homer’s Odyssey focuses on the adventures of Odysseus but, unsurprisingly, fails to mention the plight and pain of Penelope, who waited for him, devoted as ever. This book is a retelling of the myth from the eyes of Penelope, the forgotten devout wife of a Trojan hero.

“It’s hope, and hope only, rather keeps us afloat.”

“The gods often mumble.”

“I wanted happy endings in those days, and happy endings are best achieved by keeping the right doors locked and going to sleep during the rampages.”

“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”

“Immortality and mortality didn’t mix well: it was fire and mud, only the fire always won.”

“Who is to say that prayers have any effect? On the other hand, who is to say they don’t?”

“Desire does not die with the body.”