Margaret atwood

On the evidence of their Siegfried, Regents Opera’s Ring will be well worth catching

It’s sometimes said that if Wagner were alive today he’d be making movies, but come on – really? A generation of Wagnerites has grown up for whom the first and definitive encounter with Der Ring des Nibelungen was on the small screen – in my case, the BBC’s early-eighties serialisation of the Bayreuth centenary production. What lingered was not the spectacle, but the intimacy: Donald McIntyre and Gwyneth Jones enveloped in darkness, reaching into each other’s souls. If you grew up with Wagner on TV and came of age, culturally speaking, around the time The Sopranos first aired, it seems obvious that the Ring isn’t some effects-laden Marvel blockbuster before

Was Penelope really a ‘silenced’ woman?

Problems about the misuse of history, especially on subjects such as race and colonialism, have been running for a long time. But when it comes to the ancient world, there are also problems about the misuse of literature. Dame Mary Beard’s ‘manifesto’ Women and Power (2018) contains an example of the problem. Her thesis is that women’s voices in the public sphere (my emphasis) have been ‘silenced’ by men ever since the West’s first literature (Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey) gave us our first access to ‘western’ thoughts, deeds, beliefs, hopes and fears (c. 700 BC). The problem exists in the first example of her thesis, to which she returns four