- Series: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition
- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (November 29, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140268863
- ISBN-13: 978-0140268867
- Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,290 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Odyssey Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 1, 1997
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"[Robert Fitzgerald's translation is] a masterpiece . . . An "Odyssey" worthy of the original." -"The Nation"
"[Fitzgerald's" Odyssey" and "Iliad"] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer's art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase." -"The Yale Review "
"[In] Robert Fitzgerald's translation . . . 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, and this line-by-line vigilance builds up into a completely credible imagined world."
-from the Introduction by Seamus Heaney
About the Author
Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives. He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems. Both works attributed to Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey – are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.
In the Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller’s tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope. We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact ‘Homer’ may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps ‘the hostage’ or ‘the blind one’. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years’ time.Robert Fagles (1933-2008) was Arthur W. Marks ’19 Professor of Comparative Literature, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He was the recipient of the 1997 PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and a 1996 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His translations include Sophocles’s Three Theban Plays, Aeschylus’s Oresteia (nominated for a National Book Award), Homer’s Iliad (winner of the 1991 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by The Academy of American Poets), Homer’s Odyssey, and Virgil's Aeneid.
Bernard Knox (1914-2010) was Director Emeritus of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. He taught at Yale University for many years. Among his numerous honors are awards from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His works include The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy, Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His Time and Essays Ancient and Modern (awarded the 1989 PEN/Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award).
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Top Customer Reviews
I deducted one star mainly because the physical layout of the book makes it a bit of a chore to consume. The font is too small, there are no line breaks between paragraphs, e.g.no white space, and the page headers do not include the Book numbers.
The Odyssey tells the tail of Odysseus, an Aegean hero from The Iliad, and his struggle to return home. Within this story are weaved complex themes of the causes of misfortune that befalls mankind, the longing for home, the journey from childhood into manhood, the changes journeys bring about, and the constant struggle of violence and retribution that seems to exist pervasively in time and across cultures.
The Odyssey is truly a sequel to The Iliad because it builds off of and responds to many of the ideas presented there. For example, The Iliad paints a vivid picture of the pride and desire for glory that compels mankind into conflict. In that book, great honor is won in conflict. Here, in The Odyssey, we see the misfortunes that arise as consequences of our quests for glory. Thus, we see that Homer paints an incredibly perceptive view of mankind, and how we cause our own misfortune. We are locked in eternal struggle due to our own impulses and desire to rise above ordinary. We engage in conflict to, in some way, complete ourselves. As a result, retribution comes down on us in one form or another. This circle continues, and seemingly hasn't stopped revolving close to three-thousand years later. Homer is important to us because what is written here is still relevant. Humans may have new technology and clothes, but we are still cut from the same cloth as Telemachus and Odysseus.
I read the Robert Fagles Penguin Deluxe edition, and I found the translation to fit my needs perfectly. Fagles keeps a close eye on the rhythms and beats of the English language and is direct when the poem turns towards bloodshed.