While browsing at the local Barnes and Noble last week I came across an interesting historical/literary series that sparked my interest. the series, organized by Canongate Books, is called The Myths. The idea is to get well known authors from around the world to retell classic myths of their choosing. The project is the brain child of Canongate publisher Jamie Byng and was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair last month.
The first three books are currently available. The first, A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong, serves as an introduction to the series. The actual retelling of myths begins with The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. Atwood refashions the story of Homerâ€™s Odyssey from the perspective of the long suffering wife Penelope instead of the classic hero Odysseus. Jeanette Winterson retells the myth of Atlas and Heracles in Weight. A number of other authors have signed on as well, including Donna Tartt, Chinua Achebe, Victor Pelevin and David Grossman.
The claims of the publisher are rather hyperbolic:
Canongate Books, together with twenty-four great international publishing houses, is proud to announce a new series – The Myths.
The series launches on the 21st October and will be the most ambitious simultaneous world-wide publication ever undertaken. It also looks set to be THE major literary event of 2005.
I don’t know about THE major literary even of 2005, but I found the idea intriguing enough to buy the first three. As always, I will report back my findings once I have finished.