We’ve heard his story countless times; it’s been a well-trod myth since Ancient Greece. We read Metamorphoses, we studied Pygmalion, we sung along to My Fair Lady, and we mourned the short life of (the terribly named but very good) Selfie. With Madeline Miller, Pygmalion strikes again. He strikes the marble into a statue, the statue becomes a woman, Galatea strikes out on her own, and Pygmalion strikes her down.
Galatea is convalescing (read: held captive) in a hospital by the sea. She is cut off from her daughter, mistreated by the nurses, imprisoned by her doctor, and repeatedly preyed upon by her husband. She knows that she used to be made of stone, but the hospital has been paid to make her believe she is sick. Her husband visits frequently and has her re-live her birth from stone to woman over and over again while he has his way with her. Galatea has a plan, a life, a body, and a daughter. Pygmalion has a new young girl freshly carved at home; he owns her and he feels that he owns Galatea as well. Galatea has other plans. Galatea has a life of her own and she intends to use it.
Madeline Miller is the real mythic life-giver here; what I wouldn’t give to sit down and pick her brain! Her background in classics AND dramaturgy is catnip to me, and this brief but brutal slice of story crackles with power- the power of knowledge, the power of myth, and the power of a woman scorned. I want to meet the woman who wields this power.