For more than 2000 years Medea, one of the most powerful women in all of Greek myth and literature, has been drawn for readers as a nightmare example of a woman scorned; cast aside by her husband Jason, in revenge Medea kills the two sons she has borne their ambitious and faithless father.
In her new novel Christa Wolf, one of Germany's most prominent writers and author of Accident, Cassandra, and The Quest for Christa T., transforms this ancient myth and the woman at its center into a boldly contemporary exploration of power, reclaiming for today's readers a portrait of a woman sexual and warm, as well as inquisitive, decisive and outspoken, a woman whose natural confidence is a vivid contrast to the timidity of women in Corinth, the city of Jason and Medea's exile. As the novel begins Medea discovers the "dirty secret" of Creon, king of Corinth: to preserve his power, Creon has sacrificed one of his own daughters and concealed the murder from his subjects. Through a series of starkly brilliant voices in which the chief actors examine their motives and their options in the developing power play between Creon and Medea, Wolf unfolds a gripping tale of political intrigue, love and a woman's determination to preserve her independence even while her knowledge puts her ever more at risk.
This month in Bold Type you'll find an excerpt from Medea, an author notebook reflecting on the use of myth in her writing, and an essay by Margaret Atwood about Medea.
Photo of Christa Wolf copyright © Rogier Fokke
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