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Simone Weil's The <I>Iliad</I> or the Poem of Force: A Critical Edition Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers; 3 edition (May 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820463612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820463612
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #750,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


«The ‘Iliad’ is arguably the most influential work in the whole of Western literature. No discussion of it is more precious than the passionate, profound, and penetrating essay of Simone Weil, who uses the Greek epic to illuminate the human condition and the tragic theme of destruction and war. Its appearance in this book is welcome and important.» (Jasper Griffin, Professor of Classical Literature, Balliol College, Oxford University; Author of ‘Homer on Life and Death’)
«This new edition of Weil’s well-known essay on the ‘Iliad’ is welcome on several counts. James P. Holoka’s commentary and notes draw richly yet judiciously from scholarship on both Weil and her beloved Homer, and his translation fairly matches the limpid French of the original. In an age feverish with wars and their rumor, it is hard to imagine that any reader will be unaffected by Weil’s vigorously argued perceptions in what must be rated one of the most effective briefs ever written against the inhuman nature of violence. This book will benefit students and teachers in French, classical studies, philosophy, psychology, and anthropology.» (Thomas R. Nevin, Professor of Classical Studies, John Carroll University; Author of ‘Simone Weil: Portrait of a Self-Exiled Jew’)

About the Author

The Editor and Translator: James P. Holoka is Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Eastern Michigan University. He received his Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Michigan.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By cvairag VINE VOICE on October 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
Simone Weil was one of the transcendent geniuses of our time. The archetypal intellectual/activist - the clarity of her insight and the depth and weight of her oeuvre is remarkable, incredible for anyone - no less someone in their twenties and early thirties. A brilliant comet of a being, coursing luminously through the profanity and darkness of the mid- twentieth century to an early end, mercilessly, intensely engaged in the vortex of social change, yet seen by her contemporaries only from a distance - she died at a mere 34!
Weil mastered Ancient Greek in her teens and used to correspond with her brother in Attic script. She even contemplated translating the Iliad, which she considered "the purest and lovliest mirror" of the human condition. But the onslaught of Hitler's armies turned her efforts toward a more focused reflection of the critical moment in which she lived and how its essence was distilled in Homer's storied epic. Her writings on Greek thought, eloquent and profound, are collected in a svelte volume, 'Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks' Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957. Wonderful as it is to have these works in English in one volume - the product of her teaching career (she taught Greek literature and ideals at High School and undergraduate levels)- The Holoka is the best translation of her noted masterpiece, 'The Iliad, the Poem of Force'. Not only does the Holoka translation capture the honed edge of her prose (which other, more dolled up versions fail to do), but exhibits admirable fidelity throughout. Holoka also provides Weil's original French text, as well as the Greek texts of all citations (Holoka is a Classsics scholar), a solid introduction, commentary, and thorough references.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jason Rinka on June 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
There's been a lot of renewed interest in The Iliad lately- some of it stems from "Troy", the Brad Pitt vehicle, but much of it comes from the inevitable drawing of parallels between yesterday and today. With more and more talk of America as "empire", reflections on empires and wars fought in years past has been a hot topic of discussion. Lewis Lapham, in his excellent collection of essays "Theater of War", has one particularly astute essay drawing a parallel between the Peloponnysian war and the current wars being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other works, particularly recent books by Chris Hedges, have attempted to delve into the psychology, the reason, of war, rather than just the methods used to wage it. Simone Weil writes in a similar vein, albeit over 50 years ahead of her time. The book itself is an extended essay- in French and English. She picks through the Iliad, drawing out a verse and following it with analyses, successfully laying out her thesis- that the main character of the Iliad is, in fact, "force". Not Achilles, not Hector, but force itself. The use of it, the misuse of it, and the fates of those who rely on it. Citing some of the most insightful passages in the Iliad, and sometimes just a single line ("Ares is just, and kills those who kill"), Weil uses the Iliad as a launching pad into the psychology of war and violence. Having lived through WWII, one can imagine Weil didn't look far for contempory situations to draw parallels to. Overall, this is an excellent work, as a companion to The Iliad and on its own.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Fowler on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book, with Simone Weil's essay and the commentary by Holoka, to be extremely helpful as I read the Iliad - it helped to act as a lens through which I could see the "big picture" of the great epic (even if that lens might have its flaws or limitations). Highly recommended for those interested in the Iliad.
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