Madeline Miller at the Kolkata Literary Meet 2013, India
July 24, 1978 |
Boston, United States
|Notable work(s)||The Song of Achilles|
|Notable award(s)||Orange Prize for Fiction
Madeline Miller is an American novelist, whose debut novel The Song of Achilles was released in September 2011. Miller spent ten years writing The Song of Achilles, while she worked as a Latin and Greek teacher. The novel is set in Greece and tells the story of the love between Achilles and Patroclus. In May 2012, The Song of Achilles won the Orange Prize for Fiction, making Miller the fourth debut novelist to win the prize.
Miller was born on July 24, 1978 in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. After graduating from Brown University with a bachelor's and master's in Classics, Miller went on to teach Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She also studied at the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought and at the Yale School of Drama. Miller lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches and writes.
The Song of Achilles
The Song of Achilles is Miller's debut novel. It was released on September 5, 2011. Miller revealed that it took her ten years to write The Song of Achilles. She discarded a completed manuscript five years into her project and started again from scratch. Alexandra Alter of The Wall Street Journal stated that Miller struggled to perfect the voice of her narrator. The Song of Achilles is set in Greece and tells the story of a love affair between Achilles and Patroclus. Miller was inspired by the account of the two men from Homer's Iliad and she said that she wanted to explore who Patroclus was and what he meant to Achilles. Of where she found her inspiration for the novel, Miller explained:
|“||I stole it from Plato! The idea that Patroclus and Achilles were lovers is quite old. Many Greco-Roman authors read their relationship as a romantic one—it was a common and accepted interpretation in the ancient world. We even have a fragment from a lost tragedy of Aeschylus, where Achilles speaks of his and Patroclus' 'frequent kisses.' There is a lot of support for their relationship in the text of the Iliad itself, though Homer never makes it explicit. For me, the most compelling piece of evidence, aside from the depth of Achilles' grief, is how he grieves: Achilles refuses to burn Patroclus' body, insisting instead on keeping the corpse in his tent, where he constantly weeps and embraces it—despite the horrified reactions of those around him. That sense of physical devastation spoke deeply to me of a true and total intimacy between the two men."||”|
Miller became transfixed by Achilles after her mother read the Iliad to her when she was younger. She also found Patroclus "tantalizing" because he is a minor character that later had a "big impact" on the outcome of the Trojan War. The writer used classical texts by Ovid, Virgil, Sophocles, Apollodorus, Euripides and Aeschylus to help her with the plot, as well as accounts of Achilles' childhood friendship with Patroclus and his martial training. Miller also uses quotes from Homer in the text.
In April 2012, Miller was among six novelists to be shortlisted for the 17th annual Orange Prize for Fiction, which is awarded to a novel written by a female author and published in English. On May 30, 2012, Miller was announced as the winner of the prize, which is worth 30,000 pounds. Carolyn Kellogg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it was a surprise win, with Miller being "the dark horse in this year's race". It took the judges around three hours to agree to award Miller the prize. Chair of the judges Joanna Trollope commented "This is a more than worthy winner – original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her." Speaking to the BBC's Nick Higham, Miller said she was "thrilled and so honoured" to have won the prize. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Chautauqua Prize.
- Leonard, Sue (September 24, 2011). "Beginner's Pluck". Irish Examiner. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
- Alter, Alexandra (February 24, 2012). "Rewriting the Story of Achilles". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Brown, Mark (May 30, 2012). "Orange prize for fiction 2012 goes to Madeline Miller". The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Marsden, Sam (May 30, 2012). "Orange Prize for Fiction goes to Madeline Miller’s story of a love affair overshadowed by the Trojan War". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "About Madeline". madelinemiller.com. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "Paperback Q&A: Madeline Miller on The Song of Achilles". The Guardian. May 1, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "Book Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller". The Book Smugglers. December 21, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Kellogg, Carolyn (May 30, 2012). "First-time author Madeline Miller wins last-ever Orange Prize". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Ciabattari, Jane (March 21, 2012). "Madeline Miller Discusses 'The Song of Achilles'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
- Brown, Mark (April 17, 2012). "Orange prize 2012 shortlist puts Ann Patchett in running for second victory". The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- "Madeline Miller 'thrilled' to have won Orange Prize". BBC News. May 30, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
- Ron Charles (May 15, 2013). "Timothy Egan wins Chautauqua Prize for “Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher”". Washington Post. Retrieved September 26, 2013.