Book of the Month – October 2020

Pandora's Jar by Natalie Haynes

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

In traditional retellings of the Greek myths, the focus is invariably on gods and men, but in Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, broadcaster and passionate classicist Natalie Haynes refocuses our gaze on the remarkable women at the centre of these ancient stories with her trademark passion, wit and feminism.

Pandora – the first woman, who according to legend unloosed chaos upon the world – was not a villain to the Greeks, Helen didn’t always start a war, and even Medea and Phaedra have vastly more nuanced stories than generations of retellings might indicate. Taking Pandora and her jar (the box was a mistranslation by Erasmus) as the starting point, Haynes puts the women of the Greek myths on equal footing with the menfolk. After millennia of stories telling of gods and men, be they Zeus, Odysseus or Oedipus, the voices that sing from these pages are those of Clytemnestra, Jocasta, Eurydice and Penelope.

"Natalie Haynes gives much-needed voice to the silenced women of the Trojan War. Her thoughtful portraits will linger with you long after the book is finished" – Madeline Miller, author of Circe.
"Reading Pandora’s Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes: Funny, sharp explications of what these sometimes not-very-nice women were up to, and how they sometimes made idiots of... but read on!" – Margaret Atwood.

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BOOK OF THE MONTH Q&A with Natalie Haynes took place on Tuesday 20 October 2020

Watch the event again below or on Hay Player.

Further reading

The authors reclaiming the forgotten voices of ancient women, BBC News (2020)

5 Questions with Natalie Haynes, Wigtown Book Festival (2020)

How to read the classics in the modern age, ttbooks.org (2019)

About the author

Natalie Haynes is the author of five books. A Thousand Ships was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020. Her earlier books include: The Children of Jocasta (2017), The Amber Fury (2014), and The Ancient Guide to Modern Life (2010). She has written and recorded six series of Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics for BBC Radio 4. Natalie has written for The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and The Observer.

About Hay Festival's Book of the Month

Hay Festival's Book of the Month is our monthly recommendation of a title we love and think holds particular resonance today. This is our chance to celebrate great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry – new and old.

Throughout the month, we'll share interesting links and articles relating to our selection on social media using #HayBookoftheMonth and invite you all to get involved with your questions and comments.

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Happy reading!