Readers of this blog might be interested to know about a new short story by Madeline Miller called “Galatea.” Miller wrote one of our favorite books of last year, The Song of Achilles. With this story she returns to the world of Greek myth, this time to the story of Pygmalion, which many of us know well from the George Bernard Shaw play of that name, and the Hollywood musical of it My Fair Lady. In any case, as the myth goes, Pygmalion is a sculptor who falls in love with one of his sculptures and prays to the Gods to turn her into a real woman, which they do. He names the new woman Galatea, and eventually they have at least one child together.
But what does the statue-turned-woman make of all of this? That is the question Miller takes up in “Galatea” which begins with Galatea being held in a hospital after having run away from Pygmalion. It seems she doesn’t think too highly of being treated as a (sexual) object by her “creator,” and the story follows her attempts to extricate herself from life with her increasingly obsessive husband. It is a gorgeous story, full of all of the same strengths Miller showed in The Song of Achilles, including strongly evocative prose and a nicely subversive take on Greek myth which nevertheless respects the myth’s origins. And as with The Song of Achilles, this story has loads of teen appeal, with its strong dramatic style and thematic trappings of doomed love.
“Galatea” is being offered as a “Kindle Single” from Amazon or a “Nook Book” from Barnes and Noble, in either case for $2.99. Your mileage may vary as to whether a 20 page story is worth three dollars to you, but it is well worth a read, and we can hope that it is eventually published in a more collectible format.