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The children of Jocasta por Natalie Haynes
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The children of Jocasta (original 2017; edición 2018)

por Natalie Haynes

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1547138,270 (3.77)21
When you have grown up as I have, there is no security in not knowing things, in avoiding the ugliest truths because they can't be faced ...Because that is what happened the last time, and that is why my siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents ...Jocasta is just fifteen when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Her life has never been her own, and nor will it be, unless she outlives her strange, absent husband. Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. Since the day of her parents' tragic deaths a decade earlier, she has always longed to feel safe with the family she still has. But with a single act of violence, all that is about to change. With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion. But not as you know it. In Children of Jocasta, Natalie Haynes reimagines the Oedipus and Antigone stories from the perspectives of two of the women who have often been overlooked; retelling the myth to reveal a new side of an ancient story.… (más)
Miembro:Helenliz
Título:The children of Jocasta
Autores:Natalie Haynes
Info:London : Picador, 2018.
Colecciones:Tu biblioteca
Valoración:****
Etiquetas:Read, 2021

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The Children of Jocasta por Natalie Haynes (2017)

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Mostrando 1-5 de 7 (siguiente | mostrar todos)
This is an interesting attempt to tell the Oedipus story in a very different way. it is told in 2 timelines, by Jocasta and by their youngerst daughter Ismene. There is probably a decade between the latest events of Jocasta's story and that of Ismene.
The things about retellings is that while we know that Oedipus killed his father and married his mother, they didn't know that at the time, so we have a foreshadowing of what is about to come that the story's characters do not. And in that instance, it os how the current telling fits into the framework of what we already know that is the interesting part, what twists does the author put on the known story. It is also worth noting that the story does not stay the same each time it is told, even the Greek tellings end in different ways.
Jocasta starts the story as a shy young girl married off the the King. Isolated in a palace whose workings she knows nothing of, she struggles to find her feet. The depressionw hen her child is born dead (she is told) and removed is all enveloping. And then the King is brought back dead ans she comes into her own, tackling all hurdles with poise and control. And a bit of advance notice never did anyone any harm.
In parallel, we have the children of the marriage, and the fact that they are living under a curse, or is the city cursed? It's hard to separate the two.
There is an author's afterward where she discusses what is present in the earlier tellings and what she has changed to fit a different structural approach. Having purely female voices narrating makes for a very different sense, Oedipus is more of a bit player when he is usually centre stage. The denoument and what happened to both parents is quite startling, even when you already know the outline. it is well done. ( )
  Helenliz | Jun 7, 2021 |
I found this book okay. It kind of plods, and I considered DNFing but wanted to see how Haynes handled the ending. The parts about the plague stick out, of course, given our current situation (the portrayal of how they handled lockdown felt accurate), but the characters act very erratically and with weird jumps in logic. Not sure how much of that's Haynes and how much is Sophocles. Guess I need to read the Sophocles to find out. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
‘’When you have grown up as I have, there is no security in not knowing things. In avoiding the ugliest truths because they can’t be faced...Because that is what happened the last time, and that is why my siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents…’’

I admit I am always extremely apprehensive when I read the words ‘’overlooked’’ and ‘’silenced’’ when writers and blurbs refer to more obscure literary or legendary figures. ‘’Overlooked’’ by whom? Myths are exactly that. Myths. They were born out of a certain era in a certain culture, many of them are firmly rooted in a reality lost in time. Sometimes, in order to serve a strange notion of political agenda or simply because they have no new ideas of their own, writers return to established legends and classics with the excuse that we they want to bring something new into the light. The results vary, in my opinion. There have been a few exemplary works born in the hands of writers with vision and respect and the necessary chops to carry out the task. The Children of Jocasta is a novel that wanted to present a version of the Oedipus cycle. In my opinion, the potential was there but the characters were rather inadequately treated by Haynes.

I won’t insult your intelligence by narrating the myth of Oedipus. I trust all of us know it well (otherwise why are we here, right?) and it is possible that you have watched one or two performances of the plays written by Sophocles and Aeschylus or the masterpiece Antigone by Jean Aneuilh. Here, the story is narrated by Jocasta and her youngest daughter, Ismene, who dwells in the shadows of her dead parents. We watch Jocasta’s course from her marriage to Laius and we walk with Ismene until the events culminating to the conflict between Eteocles and Polynices and the closure of a family that became a toy in the hands of the gods. Does Haynes manage to breath new life in one of the most well-known legends? My answer would be yes and no.

The prose is sharp and vivid and the city of Thebes comes alive with its palace as the focus of the action. The dialogue is well-constructed despite the few contemporary elements included. It flows and successfully communicates the personality of each character. What I found extremely annoying, though, was the fact that Ismene became Isy, Antigone became Ani, Haemon became Hem and so on. It’s absolutely impossible to find short versions of these names (or any other name for that matter) in Ancient Greece. We don’t even use shortened names all that much even now, so this choice was rather problematic.

In my opinion, when we deal with such well-known stories, the focus should be placed on the depiction of the characters because the chain of events and its climax will probably the same, more or less. Right? Wrong. In Haynes’ novel, problems exist in both characterization and storyline. In terms of the characters, the main victim was Antigone. She starts rather bad and Haynes grants her a few dubious motives that didn’t seem faithful to the original or plausible enough to convince me that the changes were justifiable. If one of the aims of the novel was to turn Ismene into an interesting figure by altering the original material, I have to say that I wasn’t convinced about it either. Ismene doesn’t come across as a coward but as a sensible young woman. However, forcibly turning her into a ‘’heroine’’ doesn’t change the fact that she remains indifferent and plain. As indifferent as she is in the tragedy, albeit a bit more active. In fact, the parts related to Oedipus and Jocasta’s children were not as interesting as the narrative about their tragic parents. Jocasta is a powerful figure when she comes into her own, gifted with beautiful dialogue, and Oedipus is a worthy counterpart. Creon is the usual scum, his wife is irritating, Haemon is an absolute idiot. Eteocles and Polynices are quite underdeveloped. In addition, I wasn’t convinced with the writer’s choice over the dispute between the two brothers but this is a myth and the treatment of myths certainly allows a few liberties. What I cannot agree with is the forced change of vital parts of the legend. I consider it an audacity and I am absolutely narrow minded about it. So, this is a subjective opinion but I won’t sugarcoat omissions and dubious twists and turns just for the sake of the ‘’new’’. ‘’New’’ isn’t always appealing or successful.

This novel stands as a rather average material next to the haunting original legend. I could consider this a moderate success. But many things were missing and when compared to its source, I cannot help being critical. Add the fact that in Greece we are raised with myths like Oedipus and Antigone (all different versions of their stories) and the bar is immediately raised too high. I appreciate her admitting of ‘’playing fast and loose with the myth’’ but I cannot agree. Not that my opinion matters but anyway. Having said that, I rather liked Haynes’ writing style (in strictly literary terms) and I look forward to A Thousand Ships.

If you want to read an exceptional novel focused on Jocasta, try Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus by Victoria Grossack and Alice Underwood.

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com ( )
1 vota AmaliaGavea | Jul 15, 2019 |
Natalie Haynes is probably best known for her BBC Radio 4 programmes, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, in which she talks amusingly yet also very informatively about ancient Greek and Latin texts. An accomplished classics scholar herself, she has helped salvage them from the hinterland of public awareness, highlighting the richness of their observations of human relationships and their enduring relevance to modern life.

In this marvellous novel she revisits the Oedipus story, telling it from the perspective of Jocasta. (Do I need to offer a spoiler alert before suggesting that it doesn’t end happily? Ah, well, too late now …)

Indeed, in Natalie Haynes’s version, Oedipus himself is an almost peripheral character, not appearing until more than half way through at the time of the death of Laius, Jocasta’s husband and King of Thebes, and thereafter playing a relatively minor role. This is a reversal of the emphasis in the original, in which Jocasta has only 120 lines (although they do include all the prescient understanding of the enormity of the gradually unfolding catastrophe). Haynes does, however, retain the essential smugness that Oedipus exudes in Sophocles’s original. Oedipus is very clever, and revels in his superiority, but that cleverness is outdone by his capacity for denial, despite the growing weight of evidence suggesting that all is not well.

Jocasta’s story is interwoven of an account of the life and trials of Ismene, younger sister of Polynices and Eteocles (who passed alternate years as King of Thebes after Oedipus and Jocasta) and Antigone. At the start of the story, Ismene is attacked within the palace grounds by an unidentified assailant, and we and she are left beguiled as to what might be behind the assault.

Haynes has an engaging and clear prose style, and the story moves ahead briskly. She also offers pragmatic and entirely plausible explanations for various aspects of the story that might trouble modern readers. For example, she offers an entirely new interpretation of the Sphinx that had troubled the close environs of Thebes for so long. The fateful encounter between Oedipus and King Laius is also handled in a pragmatic and credible manner.

Haynes’s enthusiasm for the classics is infectious, and this entertaining reinterpretation of a story broadly familiar to all of us deserves great success in its own right. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Apr 21, 2018 |
Great cover design. A retelling of the greek myth of Oedipus who kills his father and marries his mother but this time the story is told from the view point of Jocasta (Oedipus' wife and mother). Chapters alternate between Jocasta's voice and the voice of her daughter, Ismene. Ismene relates what happened after the death of Jocasta. This was a little confusing at first but I soon got used to it and enjoyed both Ismene's and Jocasta's stories. Highly recommended read for those who like a different take on Greek myths. ( )
  socialpages | Dec 25, 2017 |
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When you have grown up as I have, there is no security in not knowing things, in avoiding the ugliest truths because they can't be faced ...Because that is what happened the last time, and that is why my siblings and I have grown up in a cursed house, children of cursed parents ...Jocasta is just fifteen when she is told that she must marry the King of Thebes, an old man she has never met. Her life has never been her own, and nor will it be, unless she outlives her strange, absent husband. Ismene is the same age when she is attacked in the palace she calls home. Since the day of her parents' tragic deaths a decade earlier, she has always longed to feel safe with the family she still has. But with a single act of violence, all that is about to change. With the turn of these two events, a tragedy is set in motion. But not as you know it. In Children of Jocasta, Natalie Haynes reimagines the Oedipus and Antigone stories from the perspectives of two of the women who have often been overlooked; retelling the myth to reveal a new side of an ancient story.

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