Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ book pairs

What do these pairs of books have in common?

Moby Dick by Herman Melville ~ Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

The story of Jacob in the Bible ~ The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

King Lear by Shakespeare ~ A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Macbeth by William Shakespeare ~ Lady Macbeth by Susan Frasier King

The Odyssey by Homer ~ The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Iliad by Homer ~ The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory ~ The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The answer:  "HIS" are on the left, and "HERS" are on the right.
  1. Melville gives us Ahab's story about the hunt for Moby-Dick, and Naslund presents his wife's point of view.
  2. The Bible tells us about Jacob and his sons, while Diamant gives us the perspective of Dinah, Jacob's only daughter.
  3. Shakespeare tells us what King Lear and his three daughters said and did, but Smiley's 20th-century characters show us possible reasons for what the three daughters did.
  4. While Shakespeare focuses on Macbeth, King's focus is on his wife, the last female descendant of Scotland’s royal line.
  5. Homer gives us the story of Odysseus, who finally makes it home to Penelope and promptly kills her suitors and twelve of her maids.  Atwood lets Penelope and her twelve hanged maids tell the tale as a 21st-century retrospective by the ghost of Penelope.
  6. Homer tells us the story of the Trojan Wars, with all the "heroes" fighting.  Bradley shows us how it was lived by Cassandra, one of the many daughters of King Priamus of Troy.  Cassandra was a psychic and unmarried, thus "making" her unpopular with the men.
  7. The legend of King Arthur recounts the battles of the knights of the Round Table, while Bradley's version is told from the perspective of powerful women characters like Morgaine, more commonly known as Morgan Le Fay, and Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh spelling of Guinevere.
So the answer to my question is that the second of each pair of stories gives us the women's viewpoint. And the stories change greatly when viewed through the eyes and experiences of women. His and hers stories.  Do you know any other pairs of stories like these?


Just finishedThe House on Olive Street ~ by Robyn Carr, 1999, fiction, 9/10

Currently readingThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian ~ by Sherman Alexie, 2001, YA fiction (Washington state)

Up nextInside Out and Back Again ~ by Thanhha Lai, 2011, children's (Alabama)

Totals for 201213 finished + 1 DNF (did not finish) + 9 reviews


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Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Intriguing pairing...of the ones you listed, Jane Smiley's book is one I thoroughly enjoyed. I also have the movie.


Helen's Book Blog said...

I love that you paired the male version with the female version. And, nice that people are starting to write the female versions! I loved the Red Tent when I read it years ago

Vasilly said...

The only one I can think of it the story of Bluebeard and Angela Carter's short story, "The Bloody Chamber". It's amazing. Great post!

Harvee said...

IU enjoyed Bradley's book and loved those powerful female figures...

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

That was fun to read!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Thank you, Vasilly. I looked up "The Bloody Chamber" by Angela Carter and found an introduction and incomplete summary, where I'd have to pay to read the rest:

Then I found background and a study guide with this telling sentence: "The collection as a whole refocuses traditional fairy tales to address the heroine's experience." I'll have to explore this link further and maybe add it to my list of book pairs. The summary, character list, and some content is free, though the study guide is for sale in PDF or book form (might be worth it):

There are ten stories in Angela Carter's book The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, published in 1979 in the UK, according to the second link above and Wikipedia:

Wendy said...

Hi Bonnie. I enjoyed this post the other day. I have to admit, I've never read The Mists of Avalon, though I've referenced it often in my class. I think I should read it.

When I've taught book pairs of other sorts (Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea for instance, or even Wicked against the background of The Wizard of Oz) I've had the odd phenomenon of students taking the re-visioning as some sort of "truth." "Ah...Now we know." It makes for some intersting discussions of what fiction even is.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Wendy, I think sometimes fiction can convey truth (or truths) better than the mere "facts" of nonfiction can. But your students seem to have a warped idea about reality.

Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea are not a his-n-hers pair (like those on my list), but the idea of racial inequality in the prequel does make it interesting to me.

I knew Wicked related to The Wizard of Oz, but I don't know how since I haven't read Wicked.

Yes, you ought to read The Mists of Avalon -- just because. I hope, though, that some parts don't offend you. (Think PG-13 or maybe even X-rated in one or two spots.)