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The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic
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The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  179 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In this new verse adaptation, Armitage has recast Homer's epic as a series of bristling dramatic dialogues: between gods and men; between no-nonsense Captain Odysseus and his unruly companions; and between subtle Odysseus and a range of shape-shifting adversaries.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2004)
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The Odyssey by HomerThe Iliad by HomerMythology by Edith HamiltonThe Complete World of Greek Mythology by Richard BuxtonHomeric Hymns by Homer
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Community Reviews

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Aug 24, 2014 Nikki rated it it was amazing
It's funny to think I didn't enjoy Armitage's work the first time I came across it. I think it was his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that changed that. He brought something fresh and dynamic to the poem, which made it a very different reading experience to other translations and adaptations. He's done the same here with The Odyssey. This is not a translation, or even a completely faithful adaptation: I can think of several places where it departs from the original poem.

May 18, 2010 Dergrossest rated it it was amazing
The Odyssey was probably my favorite book as child, with all of its fantastic adventures, memorable monsters and beautiful women. And Odysseus - wily, tough, but so very human Odysseus - was always my favorite hero. While I have returned to this story many times, rereading various translations, watching the movie adaptions and listening to Cream sing of the Tales of Brave Ulysses a thousand times, this recent adaptation has breathed fresh life into the story.

Armitage is a poet by trade, as you
May 17, 2016 Stuart rated it really liked it
A solid retelling of the ODYSSEY, though Armitage's lacks the linguistic brilliance and scope of Derek Walcott's stage version. This version is obviously more intended to be read aloud or done on the radio (as it was) than be staged, and it moves with a cinematic quality that allows for narrative progression that keeps Odysseus at the center, though somewhat at the loss of Telemachus as a hero in his own right. That said, a number of the lesser characters feel much more developed in this version ...more
Mar 22, 2014 Bry rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed the Odyssey when I read it in college and I loved this adaptation. Armitage did a brilliant job of adapting the story, condensing the action, and updating the language while staining the emotion and beauty of the epic poem. FYI this adaptation was done to make a radio dramatization of the story.

I was afraid it would be too dumbed down - too simple - when the original was so complex, detailed, and beautiful. Thankfully that was not the case. Obviously it is simplified just by co
Leila Anani
This is a cracking version of Homer's Odyssey, replacing densely translated, turgid prose with punchy poetic dialogue in a way that only Simon Armitage can.

Fast paced and exciting this reminded me of all the reasons I loved the Odyssey in the first place. Having the whole thing in dialogue gives it a real sense of immediacy and the ease of language makes it very accessible and a great way to introduce new readers to the wonder of Homer.

If I'm to be critical - sometimes its a little too fast. Sce
Feb 13, 2013 Leah rated it really liked it
So, I had to read this for class. But instead of doing what I did in high school and being all like, "The teacher assigned this book, it must be sooo boring," and not giving it a chance, I tried to pretend that I was reading it because I wanted to. I'm so glad I did that.

I have to say, this is now one of my favorite books. It's a very easy read, Simon Armitage did a great job with that. I had to read parts of the older, denser version of The Odyssey years ago and it was like pulling teeth and I
Mar 16, 2011 Beka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2010 Whit rated it liked it
An interesting retelling of the Odyssey done in a script format, transcribed from a radio performance. It took me a bit to figure out why things were out of order in the story's plot, and I thought it was strange to start from the middle of the story and do the first half in a sort of flashback storytelling. I did, however, enjoy most of the characterizations that you don't normally enjoy in a traditional telling of this story. You are able to see more of the suitors and, while they are still ha ...more
Russell James
May 02, 2015 Russell James rated it it was amazing
Armitage is a poet, of course, but this is a near-prose retelling of the story for radio, which gives us an exceptionally clear version, always involving - and if (tsk, tsk) you haven't read or can't really remember Homer's original - it's a great Bluffer's Guide. (A lot shorter, too.)
Feb 16, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This is not a replacement to the original but quite interesting. It takes the story of the Odyssey and resells it all in dialogue, like a play with sparse scene descriptions. The book is easily readable and fun but I would recommend the original first.
Julie Stafford
Mar 25, 2016 Julie Stafford rated it liked it
Interesting retelling of "The Odyssey." I enjoyed reading it, and there are some wonderful lines. I could have done without the few bad words that peppered the play. I thought they were unnecessary.
Mar 13, 2015 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
This book turned out really good. At first I was dreading this unit in school, but this version of the book made it so much better. Even though I don't think I would have originally picked it up on my own, once I got into it I would read it in my free time. Next year, I could potentially read the real version for school, and I think this version is a good pathway into the denser one so that you can understand better what is going on. I really recommend this book.
Feb 02, 2015 Gabrielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This radio play, which was created in 2004 at the time of the Athens Olympics, is a masterful retelling of The Odyssey. The play fully uses the evocative power of the radio medium. The story gains weight when it is, it itself, a narrative, meaning that the second episode, where Odysseus entertains the court with the story of his travels, is made more powerful through being told to us, the listener, rather than told.

I have only recently begun listening to audioplays such as this one, but I will
May 17, 2008 Maggie rated it liked it
I loved Armitage's version of Gawain, so I'm giving this a try. I still need to read the original (or a translation of the original, since I can't understand Ancient Greek). Otherwise it feels like I know only Weird Al versions, know what I mean?


This was somehow less satisfying than Gawain, perhaps because I'm that further detached from the original tale (in Gawain the original text followed you from page to page). I love how effectively his poetry works from the standpoint of a radio play
Chris Henden
Sep 27, 2014 Chris Henden rated it really liked it
much of this book is about how you should not eat too much.
Mar 13, 2015 Kaela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-reading
The Odyssey was amazing! I definitely recommend this book to anyone considering it. It is an easier read than a non-shortened version of the Odyssey. I love this book, and the characters and the plot was incredible. The best way to read this book is out loud, but either way you read it it's still great.
Aug 05, 2014 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, retelling
When we think of the story of Odysseus, we gravitate toward the fun episodes: Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, the sirens. But having actually read it this year, I was surprised by how much of the actual story isn't any of those things. Armitage's dialogue adaptation does an excellent job conveying all of that other stuff, which in the translation I read is stuffy and boring. An excellent version of the story, though perhaps one you ought to only approach after reading the original.

Jan 11, 2016 Noel rated it really liked it
Very easy to read format.
May 03, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I wish I had written this back when I finished the book about a month ago. I was very pleasantly surprised by this book--not because of lack of faith in Simon Armitage but because to me The Odyssey is like gold. Armitage's dramatic rendition is really well done. There is a terse modern edge to the dialogue that at the same time does not feel at all unsettlingly temporally distant from the original. The dialogue is alive, poetic, and engaging throughout.
Aug 05, 2008 Josh rated it it was amazing
Not only was it fun to reread the story of The Odyssey, as I haven't read it in over ten years, but is was a hell of a lot of fun reading Simon Armitage's translation. It's written entirely in dialogue (with stage directions) and all in verse. I found myself reading passages out loud to myself, acting the part of Odysseus or Zeus or whoever. It's a nice light, and very entertaining read. Looking forward to reading it again down the road...
Mar 13, 2015 Isabel rated it it was amazing
The Odyssey was a really good book. The journey kept you hooked, and this book wasn't too dense since it was more of a theater script type of writing. I want to read the actual book too, but this one is also very good.
Aug 24, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This is a masterpiece. To reduce 12000 lines of Homer to such an enjoyable read deserves all the plaudits Armitage has received since it was published 2004. The niggling gods, the Monty Python crew and the plotting suitors, mixed with passages of poetic lyricism and a 2500 year old storyline make this a masterpiece. What a shame this was not around when I was at School and I had to read it in Greek!
Apr 01, 2015 Tamar rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I was stunned at how beautiful this translation is. I did not enjoy reading The Odyssey in high school and didn't think I'd read it again. I loved Armitage's translation - it was immediate and emotional. I'm reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight now.
Nov 22, 2013 Brian rated it liked it
this was a good radio drama! i think i read parts of the odyssey before, maybe all of it. i remember it like i read it, but it is that kind of story.

anyway, some parts of the play were off by ways of the voice volume. there were parts that i mostly missed because of the whispering or the dead people talking.

but it was done well overall.
Jun 05, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
I love the Odyssey and I was worried that this format would be too simplistic but the author made it work really well! I even got a little misty-eyes at the end. He did a great job of modernizing the language and making it a little tongue-in-cheek while maintaining the drama and suspense. I would definitely read more of his retellings!
The Reader's Bookshop
Retelling The Odyssey certainly won't get anyone points for originality, but Simon Armitage's dramatic retelling is perfect for anyone wanting to familiarize herself with Homer's epic without taking a sabbatical to read the original. The dialogue and characterizations are pitch-perfect and spot-on, like a very fun, lively school play.
Apr 11, 2013 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in about 3 to 4 hours. Often you read plays and poems but rarely do modern readers get to read radio transcripts where emotion has to be transferred through script. This transcript was well-written, and beautiful in its simplicity. I would definitely recommend reading it, or buying the BBC 4 radio copy.

Aug 29, 2008 Nathan rated it really liked it
This story has been told and retold so many times that it seemed unlikely I'd find a new version worth reading. Simon Armitage's version, a radio play adapted for the BBC, however, is surprisingly fresh and fun. His deft pacing and sense of humor give this a modern feel without being annoyingly unfaithful to the original Homer.
Feb 28, 2010 J. rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant adaptation. It does leave out the bulk of the Telemachiad, and though I missed it, it didn't feel like a gap at all. Some will scoff at the modern idiomatic phrases, I'm sure, but I think it's just brilliant.
Feb 27, 2009 Carole added it
everything i wanted to steal from the odyssey is here in colloquial and approachable narrative-
i was reminded by athena of poor suffereing penelope
(also the name of desmond's girlfriend in )
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Simon Armitage, whose The Shout was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, has published ten volumes of poetry and has received numerous honors for his work. He lives in England.

Armitage's poetry collections include Book of Matches (1993) and The Dead Sea Poems (1995). He has written two novels, Little Green Man (2001) and The White Stuff (2004), as well as All Points North (1998),
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