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The Odyssey Paperback – November 5, 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 515 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 5, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374525749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374525743
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A masterpiece . . . An Odyssey worthy of the original."--William Arrowsmith, The Nation

"Here there is no anxious straining after mighty effects, but rather a constant readiness for what the occasion demands, a kind of Odyssean adequacy to the task in hand."--Seamus Heaney

About the Author

Robert Fitzgerald's versions of the Iliad, the Aeneid, and the Oedipus cycle of Sophocles (with Dudley Fitts) are also classics. At his death, in 1988, he was Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard.

Customer Reviews

Robert Fitzgerald's translation of the Odyssey is my favorite.
The story is a non-stop action adventure and keeps the reader interested until the very end.
The Odyssey is definite a must read for any high school or college student.
Evan R

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

108 of 111 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on February 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Robert Fitzgerald's translations are among my favorites. While it is virtually impossible to translate Dactylic Hexameter into English, Fitzgerald still captures much of the power and majesty of Homer in his translation. Now, it is conceded that the Odyssey is technically inferior to the Iliad. It is for this reason that the majority of Homeric scholars believe he wrote the Odyssey first, THEN the Iliad. In any case, the Odyssey is still an awesome piece of literature and has enjoyed an enormous influence over all of western thought for close to 3,000 years. It is dubious to believe too many of today's poets / authors will still be remembered 2,500+ years from now. As always with classic literature, I would admonish anyone interested in reading the Odyssey to first consult everything that has gone before, such as the Judgment of paris & the Iliad, etc. The tale will make SO MUCH more sense that way. As one can see by the negative reviews to this work, Homer is not for those who are only interested in instant gratification. If you cannot get interested in a book which may take you a month to read & a lifetime to truly understand, Homer is not for you. On the other hand, if you're really intrigued by Greek mythology, history or literature, this book is an ABSOLUTE must. It is one of the great cornerstones of all western literature. I am quite certain that people will still be reading Homer 3,000 years from now.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on May 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Just because it's by some guy named Homer and it's "classic" doesn't mean it's unreadable. Quite to the contrary, the Odyssey is one of the most readable ancient works around because so many of the stories (the Cyclops, Scylla and Charbydis, Circe, Penelope) have become part of the very fabric of our Western culture. Even Eric Clapton sings of Homer in "Tales of Brave Ulysses" in the old song by Cream! There's an allusion for you. Surprisingly, most of my honors 9th grade students adored the Odyssey and found it easy going. The Iliad is harder because it's more of a war book, while the Odyssey is much more of an adventure poem. You won't find the same technical level of poetry in the Odyssey (few of the those great epic similies) as you do in the Iliad, but it is the much more accessible work of the two. Great background reading for both kids and adults is the D'Aulair's Greek Mythology which is written for kids, but helpful for adults as well. I do like Fitzgerald's translation, but I"m still partial to the Lattimore for its proximity to the Greek. Most readers will find Fitzgerald easier, but once you've enjoyed it, give the Lattimore a try -- it's the closest you can come to hearing the poem in Greek.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By oh_pete on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Robert Fitzgerald's poetic translation of Homer's ODYSSEY simply picked me up and carried me away when I first read it in the tenth grade. I did not expect something written thousands of years ago to have such colorful language and vivid images. Nor did I expect it to surpass anything I had read before as the greatest story ever told. Very few works have even matched it in my last 15 years of reading.
THE ODYSSEY is the prototypical journey tale of world literature. After ten years fighting and helping the Greeks win the Trojan War, Odysseus, King of Ithaka, offends the sea god Poseidon and is doomed to another ten years of wandering before being able to return to his wife, son, and homeland. He meets all manner of deadly obstacles and pleasant diversions along the way, but always in his mind is the desire for home. Virtually everything is in THE ODYSSEY: a son's coming-of-age without his father, a hero's escape from giant whirlpools, sexy sorceresses and the angry wine-dark sea, the most faithful wife in the history of literature, and that's just for starters.
Fitzgerald imposes no stylistic or rhythmic roadblocks, on the contrary, his poetry is smooth and his gift for bring us all the color and music of Homer is rich and deft. In my book, only Shakespeare and Tolstoy are in the same class as Homer, but the ancient one should be experienced first. Read THE ODYSSEY before or after THE ILIAD, but read it and enjoy.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Adam Shah on August 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
First and foremost, the Odyssey is a great tale. It is at heart an adventure story of Odysseus's return to his home after the 10 year Trojan War. Because Odysseus has upset the wrong god, he has to spend another 10 years journeying home. Meanwhile, suitors for his wife, Penelope's, hand have gathered at his home trying to win her heart, and, in the meantime, eating Odysseus out of house and home.
Homer picks up the tale in medias res (in the middle of things). Much of Odysseus's journey is told as a flashback, and it is wonderful to read of the adventures fighting a Cyclops, being lured by sirens, escaping witches, even having a brush with the underworld. Through it all, the book is still a tale of a family reuniting (although Odysseus is not the most faithful husband). There is even a heartbreaking scene when Odysseus sees his old dog again after being gone for 20 years.
Robert Fitzgerald's translation is just what one wants for the Odyssey. Fitzgerald stresses the poetry of Homer's epic poem. He also strives to make the book readable. I do not know ancient Greek, but it does not appear that Fitzgerald sacrifices much to achieve this. The book is still deep and rich, yet bubbling with life at the top.
If you are looking for more of a transliteration, Richard Lattimore's translation is probably closer to what you want.
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