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The Odyssey: Structure, Narration, and Meaning Paperback – November 28, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Often illuminating... The reader will find much to welcome.

(Matthew Clark Phoenix)

This book is an important and admirable study. Previous scholars have written on narrative patterns in the poem, but none so thoroughly as Bruce Louden. His scholarship is up-to-date and sound throughout and his writing lucid. A balanced and polished work.

(Barry B. Powell, University of Wisconsin)

This book achieves its purpose. It has much to teach a variety of readers: specialists in Greek literature, advanced undergraduates, and general readers interested in epic poetry and the myth.

(William G. Thalmann, University of Southern California)

About the Author

Bruce Louden is an associate professor of classics at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Bilingual edition (November 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801869218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801869211
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,913,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ZSky on December 14, 2012
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I have never read Homer's "The Odyssey" except by films or excerpts from varies of media sources. I came across this book by Louden after a suggestion from a group of friends and how it would help one to understand what one reads. In other words, knowing about what you are reading can certainly deepen your perception and your trill of such reading.

In "The Odyssey: Structure, Narration and Meaning," Bruce Louden focuses on the whole epic and the "thematic analysis of the structure" of the poem. He also formulated an idea of an "extended narrative pattern," which is very similar to the "ring composition" which seemed to have helped the organization of the plot of the epic. And, because of narrative patterns in the poem, there is a possibility that "The Odyssey" could be a result of an oral tradition. To me, that actually made sense.

The author has also pointed out in his Introduction, "Any interpretation of the poem...must depend upon close awareness of the structures that serve to convey whatever meaning the poem is thought to convey" (p.xi) and "Awareness of such larger structures is invaluable for interpreting the poem's overall meaning" (p.xii). These beings back to an idea of "knowing" about what one is reading. I also had to keep in mind that some thousands of years ago, times were much different then and people actually used most of their brains to retain information, especially a bard whose recall of this poem as being performed for the public. Hearing the story is very different than "reading" the story since both senses convey different experiences and perceptions. By "Hearing," one can "pick" up certain themes and meanings of the certain (lengthy) poems than the one who would pick a different meanings and themes of the same poems by reading them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Rioja on August 15, 2008
For those who haven't read The Odyssey for many years (as I hadn't until recently), this book by the impeccably scholarly Bruce Louden will truly enhance your enjoyment of Homer's classic. Louden theorizes, and provides thorough evidence, of the way certain themes in The Odyssey re-occur, and how that structuring of the work most likely facilitated its performance as an oral work, thus helping to enable its preservation. He brings to light the significance of potentially minor characters like Elpinor, and more importantly stresses the role of the strong female characters that are similarly crucial in three separate phases of Odysseus's epic homecoming. For anyone who sees The Odyssey as a major work worth re-discovering, this is highly recommended.
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