A Virgilian Descent into Gendered Old Age: London katabasis in Margaret Drabble’s The Seven Sisters


This article analyses the katabasis mytheme in Margaret Drabble’s The Seven Sisters (2002), laying special emphasis on her contemporary revisionist reimagining of the Aeneid. A dialogue with Virgil’s male-centred epic poem becomes both a starting point and a destination when death is just around the corner, intimated and sublimated as it is by London, a city that correlates to the Virgilian Underworld as a dark, damp topos, plagued by grotesque lost souls wandering about its liminal spaces. This close reading of the trope will not only provide a critical insight into Drabble’s subversive reworking of Aeneas’s descent to the Underworld from a female-centred perspective, but will also explore how the mythical resignification of the London urban landscape mediates an ongoing redefinition of women’s old age and its tense power relations with the past, the present and the future.

Author Biography

Daniel Nisa Cáceres, Universidad Pablo de Olavide
Daniel Nisa Cáceres holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Seville. He is currently a full-time English Lecturer in the Department of Philology and Translation at Pablo de Olavide University. His research interests and latest publications focus on contemporary women’s rewritings of the classical tradition and female-authored speculative fiction, as well as literary translation and reception studies.


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