May 21, 2007

Lion's Honey: The Myth of Samson by David Grossman

This is yet another title in the Canongate Myths Series, and, for that reason, I expected it to be like Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: a fictional retelling of a well-known tale - in this case, the Biblical tale of Samson. What David Grossman does in this book, however, is write something that is part essay, part retelling. Though this was disappointing at first, the book very quickly engaged me.

There, she has told him everything. She has freed herself from the burden of the encounter and the extraordinary news, yet the text does not tell us a thing about any emotion that flows between them, nor of any smile or tender glance. And this should come as no surprise, since as a rule the Bible rarely records the feelings of its heroes. The Bible is a history of actions and events, and leaves to us, to each and every reader, the task of speculation
And this is exactly what Grossman does in this book – he offers a speculation, something that is not meant to be definitive, but a mere possibility. The book starts with the passages of the King James Bible concerning the story of the life of Samson. Then David Grossman takes us through the story step by step, adding speculations about the characters' feelings, motives or thoughts, offering references, making comments – taking the reader beyond the text.

I did not have a religious education, so I’m not too familiar with the tales from the Old Testament. They are a huge part of western culture, though, so through my life I’ve encountered countless references to them. For this reason, I became interested in knowing the stories behind those half-familiar names and events. Earlier this year I read Paul Roche’s The Bible’s Greatest Stories, and now, with this book, I feel like I’ve taken another step in this private quest of mine. This was a fast, interesting and informative read, and one that I would definitely recommend.

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  1. Sounds good! Another one for my list. :)

    I find the stories in the Bible fascinating, always have. I do keep meaning to do some deeper reading about them.

  2. I find them fascinating as well. This book is a good start point to exploring them more deeply.


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