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A feminist perspective of the myth of Penelope in Annie Leclerc’s Toi, Pénélope, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Silvana La Spina’s Penelope.

At the origin of Western literature stands Queen Penelope—faithfully waiting for her husband to come home: keeping house, holding on to the throne, keeping the suitors at arm’s length, preserving Odysseus’ place and memory, deserted for the pursuit of war and adventures, and bringing up a son alone, but always keeping the marriage intact. Yet recently the character of Penelope, long the archetype of abandoned, faithful, submissive, passive wife, has been reinterpreted by feminist criticism and re-envisioned by three modern novels — in French, English, and Italian — to emerge as a central, strong, self-determining, and erotically liberated female icon. Her character “is permeated with new and more complex representations of feminine diversity that, by subverting the roles attested by the canon, break with stereotypes and pursue autonomy.” Part one of this book covers “Feminist Literary Criticism and the Theme of Penelope”; part two considers “Penelope in Three (Feminist) Revisionist Novels” – by Annie Leclerc, Margaret Atwood and Silvana La Spina. These feminist revisions of myths of womanhood and rewritings of female archetypes from a feminist perspective broaden the definition of femininity to include new possibilities and more inclusive representations of female identity.

Barbara Dell’Abate-Çelebi is the author of L’alieno dentro: Percorso semiotico alle origini del romanzo femminista italiano (2011) and La letteratura in gioco (2016). She is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Translation and Interpreting at Beykent University and Visiting Instructor in the Department of French Literature at Galatasaray University, both in Istanbul. She holds a degree in Modern Languages and Literatures from the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’ and a PhD in Italian literature from the University of Istanbul. She has taught Italian, English and French literature at the University of Istanbul, Koç University and Université Libre de Bruxelles.


ISBN 978-1-60962-084-4 (electronic book)

Publication Date



Zea Books


Lincoln, Nebraska


Odyssey, feminist, Atwood, Leclerc, La Spina, Penelope, ancient Greece, criticism


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Literature and Philology | Classics | Comparative Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | French and Francophone Literature | Italian Literature | Literature in English, North America | Women's Studies


Copyright (c) 2016 Barbara Dell’Abate-Çelebi.

Penelope’s Daughters