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The Odyssey: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation) Paperback – October 7, 2014
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“Stephen Mitchell’s faithful translation of the Odyssey has great vigor, and a plain eloquence that is quite free of pedantry. It does not plod. Its narrative drive is so compelling that the reader will find himself speaking the lines aloud, as I did.” (Richard Wilbur, former Poet Laureate of the United States and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry)
“Stephen Mitchell is one of the great translators, and his version of the Odyssey is a masterpiece of clarity, directness and a kind of blunt musicality which catches perfectly the pitch of the true Homeric voice.” (John Banville, author of The Sea)
“This latest incarnation of the Odyssey leaves no doubt that Stephen Mitchell has made a deep connection to the tale’s spiritual power, which he has managed to express with propulsive cadence and in exquisite detail. The bard sings again, this time at the banquet of Mitchell’s ardent labor.” (Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States)
“Yet again, one of today’s gifted, knowing scholars and writers embraces one of the masterpieces of yore, and so doing offers us the Odyssey as a wise and stirring companion for our own personal voyage through time and life’s many stirring, worrying, enabling moments.” (Robert Coles)
A daring new version of the epic poem. (Wall Street Journal)
"Employing the five-beat, minimally iambic line he used for his translation of The Iliad (2011), Mitchell retells the first, still greatest adventure story in Western literature with the same clarity, sweep, and force.There are many more violent deaths in The Iliad—there’s a war going on, after all—but nothing as ghoulishly terrifying (and starkly related by Mitchell) as what Polyphemus, the Laestrygonians, and Scylla do to Odysseus’ crew. Stephen King, eat your heart
out." (Booklist, starred review)
"Re-reading the epic poem The Odyssey with this new translation by Stephen Mitchell is a reminder not only of its significance as an early literary masterpiece of the West but also its beauty as a work of art... It resonates with modern readers as much as it did to our ancestors... Eminently readable, flowing narrative… captures the beauty of the language while rendering the poem accessible to all readers... Mitchell deserves great credit for providing a new translation that will appeal to modern readers and see the Homeric tales thrive amongst the next generation... Mitchell’s translations should be the first port of call to anyone who’s never yet read the Homeric poems but has always meant to." (Entertainment-focus (UK))
About the Author
Stephen Mitchell is widely known for his ability to make old classics thrillingly new. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, the Iliad, Gilgamesh, The Gospel According to Jesus, The Book of Job, Bhagavad Gita, and The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. His website is StephenMitchellBooks.com.
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Mitchell's modern restraint allows fuller appreciation of character and dilemma: the ethics, the politics and the prejudices of the culture. This translation is shot through with a numinous quality. If you have not read this since high school, I recommend you read this translation now.
My one concern: As with my other kindle poetry books, I simultaneously downloaded this on kindle, ipads and laptop attached to hdmi TV screen. This ebook has a limited number (4?) of allowed downloads. I wish amazon had warned me. I wouldn't have been so profligate in repeatedly downloading, removing (and revelling :-) ) in this book.
Mitchell's language is fluent and evocative carrying the eye to really see this amazing adventure and invention. He invites us to share the deep emotional life of the hero and his colleagues. Some scholars say Homer was both blind and old - and if so it is an even better read as we gain in age and experience!
The Introduction offers keen insights gained by Mitchell as he translated this carefully and made certain artistic choices. He gives examples and reasons why we benefit from paying profound attention to important topics. As we are aware of Greek cultural codes such as the importance of hospitality - and deeds of inhospitality, exhibited by the Suitors and others, we can connect with the story better.
Mitchell provides a helpful chart showing the region of the voyages, and annotations about the characters, conveniently referenced at the end.
I am very pleased to have this work and have bought it as a gift for friends who I think will also enjoy becoming reacquainted with a "classic" that may not ever have been enjoyed like this before.
I have come to appreciate Mitchell as a translator over the years and have ready much of his work. For engaging and sensitive treatment of significant works I have found none better. If you've never read Homer before, this is a good place to start. If you have and it's left a bad taste, try this. If you have and are hungry for a fresh look you will not be disappointed.