Sunday, May 6, 2012

Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller grew up in Philadelphia, has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Latin and Ancient Greek from Brown University, and has been teaching both languages for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specializing in adapting classical tales for a modern audience. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Miller's first novel is The Song of Achilles.

From her Q & A at the Guardian:

How did you come to write The Song of Achilles?

Almost accidentally. Although I'd always loved writing and Classics, it never crossed my mind to combine the two until my senior year of college. A friend asked me to codirect a production of Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare's Trojan War play, and the experience was a complete revelation. I realised that I wanted not just to read these ancient texts, but to participate in telling them.

At the same time I found myself fascinated by that terrible moment in the Iliad when Patroclus dies and Achilles is overcome with grief and rage. It was so moving to me, and mysterious too, because Patroclus has been a fairly minor character up to that point. I wanted to understand who he was, and why Achilles was so lost without him. The Song of Achilles was my way of answering that question.

What was most difficult about it?

Finding Patroclus's voice. I originally started off by writing very much in epic mode, but realised about halfway through the process that though the story was epic, Patroclus's vision of the world was essentially lyric. Ancient lyric poetry is the poetry of the personal: of love and friendship, beauty and pleasure. Once I understood that Patroclus saw the world more like Sappho and Catullus than Homer, things...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Madeline Miller's website.

See Madeline Miller's top ten classical books.

My Book, The Movie: The Song of Achilles.

--Marshal Zeringue