‘Unweaving the Odyssey’. Volume 47 in Bithell Series of Dissertations Published

Friday 23 August 2019

Unweaving the Odyssey Front CoverHow has classical literature shaped culture, knowledge, the thinkable? What happens when a canonical text is translated from his gaze into her, and their, gaze(s)? These are some of the questions Barbara Köhler pursues in her modern epic poem, Niemands Frau (2007), her response to The Odyssey, and which Rebecca May Johnson examines in the first detailed analysis of Köhler’s poem, tracing the ways in which she re-invents Homer’s text, from the claim that Niemands Frau is a form of ‘translation’ to its complex re-workings of the Homeric figures Penelope, Helen of Troy, Tiresias and Odysseus.

Translated and re-imagined over the centuries, Homer’s tale found critical resonance in intellectual traditions from Christianity through to post-colonialism. Odysseus has been viewed as an ideal, reputedly using reason rather than force to dominate, but in Niemands Frau Köhler takes inspiration from Penelope to weave a text that challenges the rationalist and patriarchal epistemological traditions to which the Odyssey contributes. Readers are invited to cast a critical and deconstructive look back as Köhler unweaves histories of misused power and patriarchy and reweaves a critically alert present, gesturing to a future when life is what counts.

Unweaving the Odyssey: Barbara Köhler’s ‘Niemands Frau’ by Rebecca May Johnson can be purchased from the School of Advanced Study online shop.

ISBN 978 0 85457 270 0 • x, 253pp • 2019

Other titles in the series