Catalogue


Achilles /
Elizabeth Cook.
imprint
New York : Picador, 2002.
description
115 p.
ISBN
0312288840
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Picador, 2002.
isbn
0312288840
catalogue key
4775067
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Elizabeth Cook has published short fiction and poetry, as well as scholarly works on Renaissance literature. She has also written for television and the theater. She lives in London
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-12-17:
With this brilliantly conceived retelling of the plight of one of Homer's heroes, British writer Cook demonstrates the same skill that has made her poetry and examinations of Renaissance literature so wonderfully memorable. Cleaving closely to the Odyssey but embellishing her tale with sharply imagined creative flourishes, Cook navigates the rise and fall of the powerful Greek warrior Achilles, tragic hero of the Trojan War. Voluptuously chronicling the warrior's youth, Cook tells how he is dipped in the immortalizing waters of the river Styx (except for the legendary heel) and spends his youth cloaked as a girl. As he rises to power, Achilles encounters a bevy of gods and mystical figures, each imparting ruminations on fate, mortality and the tragic eventualities of love and war. Death the slaying of Troy's champion soldier, Hector; the 12 gruesome days spent parading his corpse via chariot; and Achilles' own demise is the work's central theme, but Cook also brilliantly narrates a series of passionate encounters, describing, for example, the exquisitely athletic fusion of King Peleus and Achilles' sea-nymph mother, Thetis. Cook's text is more lush prose poem than traditional narrative, its concentrated, intense verbiage exhibiting agony and beauty simultaneously. The heady brew is made even richer by Cook's brave incorporation of an episode from the life of poet John Keats in the surprising final chapter, which suggests a curious affinity between the prophetic writer and the slain hero. At 128 pages, Cook's tale is tightly woven, and this brevity makes for an extreme reading experience. The genre of retellings of classical epics will surely be reinvigorated by this slim, exceptional interpretation of the heroic fable of Achilles. (Feb.) Forecast: Rave reviews in Britain heralded the appearance of this potent work, and curiosity on these shores should be whetted by the book's haunting jacket, which features a massive ancient wooden gate in stark black and white. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Everything in this novel, except the number of pages, is larger than life, and in reading it we are returned to our own lives with a sense of larger possibility. This bright, fierce book reminds us that art can be consoling and that, however grievous, however inevitable our losses, we do not bear them alone." Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe "Elizabeth Cook has met the challenge of retelling the Achilles story with thrilling audacity and has given us a novel of great beauty and originality. A heroics book, radiant with intelligence and passion." Sigrid Nunez, author of For Rouenna "[A] poetic masterpiece . . . unfailingly modern: swift, cinematic, sexually explicit, and ravishingly beautiful." The Atlantic Monthly "Cook imbues the legend of Achilles with startling urgency and beauty. Erudite, passionate and not the least bit pretentious . . . Cook has impressively transformed the legend of Achilles into something entirely her own, a thoroughly modern study of masculinity, mortality and honor." The San Francisco Chronicle "Ms. Cook's Achilles shimmers between poetry and prose, myth and memory, an age-old story and a startlingly modern imagination. It is uncanny in the best sense of the word." Emily Barton, author of The Testament of Ives Gundron "Brilliantly conceived." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "This welcome retelling of Achilles' careersavage yet sensitive, headstrong yet doomedimpels him to death, but Elizabeth Cook's vivid narrative, together with John Keats waiting in the wings, restores the Homeric hero to his rightful, impassioned life." Robert Fagles, translator of Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey "Inspired . . . Cook points up the primal quality of Achilles' story, so that we see its tragedy . . . as utterly universal." Booklist (starred review) "Masterful . . . A short, intense account of a short, intense life, closer to being a poem than a novel: if not verse, then at least prose with blood pressure." London Review of Books "A piece of writing that somehow belongs both to the ancient world and to ours. By pure force of feeling and imagination, and without any overt modernisation, it transforms this ancient story into something that goes straight to the heart of our current questions." Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman "[A] remarkable little book . . . It is slender yet epic in its scope. Its roots are well-known, but its branches are new. I have never read anything like it." Kate Kellaway, The Observer "Extraordinary, and extraordinarily successful . . . What the late Angela Carter did for the folk-tale and fairy-story, Cook is here doing for the classical epic . . . It is beautiful, passionate." Sara Maitland, The Spectator
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, December 2001
Publishers Weekly, December 2001
Booklist, February 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
This powerful, passionate, and beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles re-creates Homer's fated hero in a new and striking reality. Born of the Sea nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks' greatestr warrior at Troy. Into his story comes a cast of fascinating charactersamong them, Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen, and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writings form the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience. An forgettable and deeply moving work of fiction, Achilles is also an affirmation of the story's enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination.
Unpaid Annotation
Born of god and king, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks' greatest warrior at Troy. This passionate retelling of the epic tale of Achilles recreates Homer's hero in a new and vivid reality.
Main Description
This powerful, passionate and beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles recreates Homer's fated hero in a new and striking reality.Born of the sea-nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks' greatest warrior at Troy.Into his story comes a cast of fascinating characters - among them Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writings form the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience.An unforgettable and deeply moving work of fiction, Achilles is also an affirmation of the story's enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination.AUTHORBIO: Elizabeth Cook was born in Gibraltar and raised in Nigeria before moving to England.She has published short fiction and poetry as well as scholarly works on Renaissance literature, and has also written and presented for television and the theatre.Formerly a university lecturer, she has edited the works of John Keats for Oxford University Press.She lives London.
Main Description
This powerful, passionate, and beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles re-creates Homer''s fated hero in a new and striking reality. Born of the Sea nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks'' greatestr warrior at Troy. Into his story comes a cast of fascinating characters'”among them, Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen, and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writings form the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience. An forgettable and deeply moving work of fiction, Achilles is also an affirmation of the story''s enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination. Elizabeth Cook has published short fiction and poetry as well as scholarly works on Renaissance literature, and has also written and presented for television and the theatre. Formerly a university lecturer, she has edited the works of John Keats. She lives London. An Atlantic Montly Best Book of the Year This beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles recreates Homer''s fated hero in a new and striking reality. Born of the Sea nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks'' greatest warrior at Troy. Into his story comes a cast of fascinating characters'”among them, Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen, and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writings form the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience. As a work of fiction, Achilles is also an affirmation of the story''s enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination. "Cook imbues the legend of Achilles with startling urgency and beauty . . . [A] witty, inventive retelling of the epic tale of Homer''s doomed hero . . . The narrative reads as an extended prose poem: Highly imagistic and changing in perspective and time, Achilles slowly builds force . . . Erudite, passionate, and not the least bit pretentious. Cook has impressively transformed the legend of Achilles into something entirely her own, a thoroughly modern study of masculinity, mortality and honor."'” Carmela Ciuraru , San Francisco Chronicle "Cook imbues the legend of Achilles with startling urgency and beauty . . . [A] witty, inventive retelling of the epic tale of Homer''s doomed hero . . . The narrative reads as an extended prose poem: Highly imagistic and changing in perspective and time, Achilles slowly builds force . . . Erudite, passionate, and not the least bit pretentious. Cook has impressively transformed the legend of Achilles into something entirely her own, a thoroughly modern study of masculinity, mortality and honor."'” Carmela Ciuraru , San Francisco Chronicle "Everything in this novel, except the number of pages, is larger than life, and in reading it we are returned to our own lives with a sense of larger possibility. This bright, fierce book reminds us that art can be consoling and that, however grievous, however inevitable our losses, we do not bear them alone."'” Margot Livesey, The Boston Globe "This welcome retelling of Achilles'' career'”savage yet sensitive, headstrong yet doomed'”impels him to death, but Elizabeth Cook''s vivid narrative, together with John Keats waiting in the wings, restores the Homeric hero to his rightful, impassioned life."'” Robert Fagles, translator of Homer''s The Iliad and The Odyssey "Unfailingly modern: swift, cinematic, sexually explicit, and ravishingly beautiful. This poetic masterpiece, a psychologically acute portrait of the Homeric hero Achilles . . . imbues [Homer] with a post-Freudian emotional sensibility, focusing more on the nuances of individual motivation than on the grandeur of the action."'” The Atlantic Monthly "Elizabeth Cook has met the challenge of retelling the Achilles story with thrilling audacity and has given us a novel of grea
Main Description
This powerful, passionate, and beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles re-creates Homer's fated hero in a new and striking reality. Born of the Sea nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks' greatestr warrior at Troy. Into his story comes a cast of fascinating charactersamong them, Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen, and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writingsform the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience. An forgettable and deeply moving work of fiction, Achilles is also an affirmation of the story's enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination.
Main Description
This powerful, passionate, and beautifully crafted retelling of the epic tale of Achilles re-creates Homer's fated hero in a new and striking reality. Born of the Sea nymph Thetis by the mortal King Peleus, and hidden as a girl until Odysseus discovers him, Achilles becomes the Greeks' greatestr warrior at Troy. Into his story comes a cast of fascinating charactersamong them, Hector, Helen, Penthiseleia the Amazon Queen, and the centaur Chiron; and finally John Keats, whose writings form the basis of a meditation on the nature of identity and shared experience. An forgettable and deeply moving work of fiction,Achillesis also an affirmation of the story's enduring power to reach across centuries and cultures to the core of our imagination.
Table of Contents
Two Riversp. 1
Gonep. 59
Relayp. 93
Glossary of Classical Namesp. 109
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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