Adventures in Reading


Lion’s Honey by David Grossman
January 8, 2008, 12:29 pm
Filed under: book reviews, fiction
“There is a point in the Samson story — the moment when he falls asleep on Delilah’s lap — that seems to absorb and encapsulate the entire tale.” From David Grossman’s Lion’s Honey.

David Grossman’s Lion’s Honey: The Myth of Samson is the third book in the Canongate Myths series that I have read, and I am far from disappointed. Lion’s Honey is Grossman’s retelling of the biblical tale of Samson and Delilah. From the book of Judges, Samson is chosen by god to lead the Israelites against the Philistines and is well-known for three occurrences: killing a lion with his bare-hands, falling in love and subsequently being betrayed by Delilah, and tearing down a building to kill 3,000 Philistines (and himself) that are within. In his foreword, Grossman comments on the skeletal like nature of the bible and in his retelling and interpretation of the myth he asks the questions and provides the substance the story is lacking.

Quoting almost entirely line from line with the biblical story, Grossman explores a variety of interpretations that display his own opinions as well as other representations of the story (i.e. in art, literature, criticisms, biblical study, the story’s influence on Israel). Ultimately, the reader becomes reacquainted with the story if not through Grossman’s specific interpretations then at least through re-questioning her own interpretation. I found it wonderfully delightful how Grossman deciphers the story line by line. This close reading differs from the other Myths that I have read and it seems to give the book a more universal appeal.

Lion’s Honey is not an updated version of the tale (like Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy) nor does it really have a philosophical edge (such as Jeanette Winterson’s Weight), but it thoroughly and in detail explores the myth of Samson. Additionally, Grossman’s novel promises fascinating results when applied to any biblical story, myth, tale, etc. I am now at a loss to say which book in the series is my favorite, but I am very much looking forward to reading Margaret Atwood’s selection as well as The Helmet of Horror — both which are waiting for me!

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