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The Odyssey of Homer: Translated by T.E. Lawrence Hardcover – July 25, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0195068184 ISBN-10: 0195068181 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The point of comparison between these two volumes is that neither will be well received by serious classicists. There have been at least ten previous editions of Lawrence's prose translation of the Odyssey . When it was first published in 1932, Lawrence's admittedly "free" translation was criticized by many as being too fast and loose with the original text. This and the colloquialisms that bothered critics then are all the more pronounced 60 years later. Nor does Bernard Knox give any discernible reason for the reissue of the work in his preface to the volume. Billed as a rediscovery, this is just new packaging of an old translation. Believing that the topography and the meteorology of the Mediterranean does not mesh with its descriptions in the Odyssey and the Iliad , Wilkens presents a compelling argument that moves the Trojan War to Western Europe and Troy to East Anglia near Cambridge. The "Trojan War," he contends, was actually a Celtic battle that was fought hundreds of years before Homer's time and passed down to him by oral tradition. Wilkens redraws the map of the Trojan War, justifying each location with archaeological evidence or etymological analysis of place-names. The volume makes for interesting reading, albeit somewhat frustrating for one who is a Homerian by enthusiasm but not scholarship because most of the cited references are in languages other than English (this work has been translated from French). Libraries without Lawrence's translation can do without it, and only large libraries will want to consider adding Wilkens.
- Marjorie F. MacKenzie, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 25, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195068181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195068184
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,135,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on October 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I hesitated in buying this translation of the Odyssey having grown up with verse translations, most notably that of Fitzgerald. A prose translation somehow put me off; it seemed like the very meaning of Homer's words would be rendered into something different. One day, I read about the translation that T. E. Lawrence had made and, intrigued, I decided to read it for myself. I was very glad that I did.
Lawrence made his translation with an eye for the details and color of the text. He claimed that his experiences in the war in Arabia helped him to understand the writer of the Odyssey, and I think this did aid him in his approach to his translation. The introduction to this printing of Lawrence's translation provides an interesting comparison to another widely used prose rendering of the Odyssey, and one can instantly discover how much more vivid and faithful Lawrence is to the original. So, Lawrence's Odyssey is a translation I will return to in my future reading of this classic tale.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael Huntington on February 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have read the Odyssey several times in several translations, and this one, by the famed "Lawrence of Arabia" is the best of them all. No other translation that I have read makes this classic more readable and more enjoyable. Some translations plod, and obscure the excitement of the original, this one turns it into a real page-turner. If you've never read Homer and wonder which of the many translations to read, this is the one; I can recommend no other to introduce "newbies" to the classic world of epic fantasy and adventure.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
T.E. Lawrence (the English officer who brought together the various peoples of the Arabian peninsula against the Ottoman Empire during World War I; better known as Lawrence of Arabia) called the epic poem "The Odyssey" by the Greek poet Homer "the oldest book worth reading for its story, and the first novel of Europe". The tale of King Odysseus, struggling to return to his home of Ithaca and his family after the Trojan War, is one on par with the finest of contemporary fantasy. Combining as it does a sprawling saga of a ten-year adventure with such fabulous creatures as the Cyclops Polyphemus, the hideous man-devouring Scylla, and the lethally-alluring Sirens with many of the gods of the ancient Greek pantheon (Athene, Poseidon, Calypso, Hermes, and others besides), one can even today marvel at its author's imagination and ingenuity. Then too there is the rich humanity of its mortal characters; the cunning Odysseus, his virtuous wife Penelope, his stalwart son Telemachus, the boorish suitors of Penelope, Eurymachus and Antinous, the august king Menelaus, and a great many more. It is a heady mixture. Lawrence's prose translation is written with a lyrical, romantic deftness. It harkens back to the high epic stories of Sir Walter Scott. But Lawrence never minimizes the sometimes brutal craftiness of Odysseus, nor his casual unfaithfulness to his wife, nor yet his still tender yearning for her and his son. And Lawrence glories in the ancient Greek tradition of "manly tales, manfully told", both in the novel itself and in Odysseus's recounting of his journey to his benefactors. Here indeed is a true flavor of those olden times. As wild and magnificent today as it was 2,500 years ago, "The Odyssey", in whatever form it takes, is still a story by which all other tales of fantastic adventure can be measured.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Squires on March 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have a hard time reading poetry of any kind, so this translation really resonated with me. Plus, Lawrence was a man of action as well as scholar and intellectual, and I feel this gave him greater insights into the travails and adventures.
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The Odyssey of Homer: Translated by T.E. Lawrence
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