During my visit to the library, I stumbled upon a remarkable discovery. Galatea: A Short Story by Madeline Miller caught my attention and I couldn’t resist picking it up. Although I am not familiar with Miller’s previous works, I have seen the striking covers of her last two publications. Galatea can be read in just under ten minutes. Lately, I have noticed a resurgence of myths in popular culture being incorporated into storytelling on a larger scale. Galatea: A Short Story by Madeline Miller has become my entry point into Madeline Miller’s universe.
Galatea is perfectly contained, defiantly powerful
The storyline is based on Galatea, a statue crafted to represent the ideal woman, who eventually transforms into a human and marries the sculptor who made her. Miller’s story is a take on Ovid’s Pygmalion myth. In Ovid’s version, a sculptor creates a perfect female figure from ivory after being repulsed by prostitutes. While the concept touches on objectifying women, domestic violence, and society’s perception of the perfect woman.
The sculptor falls in love with his creation and the goddess Venus brings the statue to life. Miller’s version begins after Galatea’s transformation into a real woman. But her husband and maker keep her imprisoned and under the supervision of doctors, unaware that she has her own desires.
“The thing is, I don’t think my husband expected me to be able to talk. I don’t blame him for this exactly, since he had known me only as a statue, pure and beautiful and yielding to his art.”
Miller says that “The term ‘incel*’ wasn’t in wide circulation when I wrote this, but Pygmalion is certainly a prototype. For millennia there have been men who react with horror and disgust to women’s independence, men who desire women yet hate them, and who take refuge in fantasies of purity and control. What would it be like to live with such a man as your husband? There are too many today who could answer that. But that is the mark of a good source myth; it is water so wide it can reach across centuries.”
Fun Fact: In Star Trek: The Original Series “Requiem for Methuselah” an immortal human builds a presumably immortal android as a life partner.
*A member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually, typically associated with views that are hostile toward women and men who are sexually active.