John's Reviews > The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer
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's review
Jan 27, 08

bookshelves: classics
Read in March, 2005

Fagels's translation of the Iliad and the Odyssey are both magnificent -- highly readable, with forceful and direct prose that (I have to imagine, since I have no expertise) are closer to the experience of the original oral texts. For me, the measure if the success of the translation is whether it allows a text this old and culturally removed from the reader to retain its emotional impart. This one does -- though, unexpectedly (for me, anyway), it's most compelling moments actually belong to Penelope, fending off her boorish and exasperating suitors. But it's the climax -- the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope, and Odysseus's battle with the suitors -- that is really the masterpiece here; in Fagels's translations of those sections, this ancient poem becomes as compulsive a page-turner as anything I've ever read. Great stuff, looking forward to re-reading it.
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