Cassandra, most beautiful daughter of Priam and Hecuba, Trojan royalty, is punished with the fate of seeing truthful prophecies and never being believed. Cassandra who foresaw not only the fall of Troy but also the means and time of her death (and that of her children) at the hands of vengeful Clytemnestra.
But this is evil, see!
Now once again the pain of grim, true prophecy
shivers my whirling brain in a storm of things foreseen.
Cassandra who long haunted my thoughts after first reading Aeschylus (first Richard Lattimore’s and then Anne Carson’s Agamemnon) for her divination of the fearful death of her children and herself.
Christa Wolf deconstructs the fall of Troy in Cassandra, using the epic as a framework to scrutinise violence, patriarchy and repression. Artfully written, Cassandra substitutes the heroic, Homeric perspective of the Trojan War with a heroine’s perspective that allows one to read a familiar story from a revitalised critical direction. Though Wolf’s novel can be read as connecting ancient times with the contemporary, it wears its allegorical nature delicately, and with rational distribution of culpability across gender lines.
Once again I wish to thank flowerville for leading me to read Christa Wolf. Next I intend to read Wolf’s Patterns of Childhood, the author’s account of growing up in Nazi Germany.