From today’s notebook: The Shades of Achilles and Patroclus

I recently finished Madeline Miller’s very excellent The Song of Achilles, Clive Hicks-Jenkins had suggested I read it, so I was quick to order a copy for myself.  I had heard of the novel, I had read a scathing review of it in the New York Times and foolishly I held back from reading it.  The reviewer, Daniel Mendelsohn , was ruthless (from my persective) in his criticism of the novel.  Most of his harsh judgment seemed aimed at the unabashedly romantic depiction of Achilles and Patroclus, comparing it to Dawson’s Creek – about as a cruel a comparison I can think of.

Mendelsohn takes Miller to task  for stating the obvious (to him at least) – the romantic nature of their relationship .

The truth is their relationship while implied,  is not a given fact to the population at large as Mendelsohn asserts. There is a sacredness to their narrative,  a romance held dear by a great many gay folks through time, that was secret and coded.  It is no small matter that Alexander and Hephaestion made a pilgrimage to their tomb. If Miller’s prose  was too purple for Mendelsohn then frankly that  is too bad; I for one relished the evocative images she created.  It is high time for some frank, direct depictions of gay love, culturally  we have settled for the implied. Miller gave us a sweeping romance, I thank Miller for that, florid or not.  In response I created an equally purple image of the two re-united for eternity in the Underworld.

Mendelsohn and his ilk will just hate it.


The Shades of Achilles and Patroclus

graphite, watercolor,pastel on paper

Take care, be well,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

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