Galatea by Madeline Miller

Galatea is no fairytale. It is the story of a woman held captive in her own skin, valued only for her body, trapped in a life lived only for the pleasure of another.

Galatea is a retelling of the story of Pygmalion as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Some read the myth as a metaphor for how artists fall in love with their art; others (like Miller) are more disturbed by the mysoginist implications of the story.

But “Pygmalion’s happy ending is only happy if you accept a number of repulsive ideas: that the only good woman is one who has no self beyond pleasing a man, the fetishization of female sexual purity, the connection with ivory to perfection, the elevation of male fantasy over female reality.” (Miller, 51-52).

Galatea does not speak at all in Ovid’s version. In fact, she is not even given a name–she is only called “the woman“. She is given no freedom, no choices, no autonomy. But in Galatea, Miller gives her a voice.

With this feminist retelling, Miller reclaims the story of Galatea, exploring her life, her thoughts, her feelings, and getting to know her as more than just “the woman”.

Brutal and beautiful, short and powerful, and especially poignant in light of recent events in U.S. politics.

TRIGGER WARNING: abuse, violence, sexual assault, rape, suicide.