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The Odyssey

by Homer, Trans. By Samuel Butler

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About Book

Robert Fagles's translation is a jaw-droppingly beautiful rendering of Homer's Odyssey, the most accessible and enthralling epic of classical Greece. Fagles captures the rapid and direct language of the original Greek, while telling the story of Odysseus in lyrics that ring with a clear, energetic voice. The story itself has never seemed more dynamic, the action more compelling, nor the descriptions so brilliant in detail. It is often said that every age demands its own translation of the classics. Fagles's work is a triumph because he has not merely provided a contemporary version of Homer's classic poem, but has located the right language for the timeless character of this great tale. Fagles brings the Odyssey so near, one wonders if the Hollywood adaption can be far behind. This is a terrific book.

From Publishers Weekly
Robert Fagles's 1990 translation of The Iliad was highly praised; here, he moves to The Odyssey. As in the previous work, he adroitly mixes contemporary language with the driving rhythms of the original. The first line reads: "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns/ driven time and again off course once he had plundered/ the hallowed heights of Troy." Hellenic scholar Bernard Knox contributes extensive introductory commentary, providing both historical and literary perspective. Notes, a pronouncing glossary, genealogies, a bibliography and maps of Homer's world are included.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal
Translator Fagles (comparative literature, Princeton Univ.) offers a new verse translation of the Odyssey, a worthy companion to his version of the Iliad (LJ 8/90). Joining the translations of Robert Fitzgerald, Richard Lattimore, and, more recently, Allan Mandelbaum, his version attempts to achieve readability and the vigor of the original, avoiding the anachronizing of Fitzgerald. At the same time he is more literal than Lattimore and Mandelbaum. As with his Iliad, this translation is accompanied by a long introduction, notes, and glossaries, provided by noted classicist Bernard Knox. Fagles's Iliad and Odyssey provide both the general reader and the student of literature a fine version of Homer in English.?Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The New York Times Book Review, Richard Jenkyns
The success of Robert Fagles's new translation can be seen from his opening lines:
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the
man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course,
once he had plundered
the hallowed heights of Troy.
Many cities of men he saw and
learned their minds,
many pains he suffered, heartsick
on the open sea,
fighting to save his life and bring
his comrades home.
How good that is. ... Mr. Fagles's translation of the "Iliad was greeted by a chorus of praise when it appeared; his Odyssey is a worthy successor.

From AudioFile
That "man of twists and turns," the great Odysseus, is a fitting hero for modern contemplation. He is a powerful warrior, an adventurer, a man of honor and tenderness. He is a survivor. He is also a victim of fate, a trickster and a ruthless avenger. In Robert Fagles's masterful translation we have a fresh look at this old story. Fagles chose to preserve the iambic pentameter form which, as Ian McKellen presents it, is never singsong but always singing. The story dances quietly along, pulling the listener toward the inevitable cadence that concludes each book. It's a deeply satisfying experience to listen to McKellen's subtle, resonant voice weave the story. Cherish the images as the web of this great tale is woven before the eyes of the mind. L.R.S. Winner of AUDIOFILE's Earphones Award (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

From Booklist
Although today epic is often used to suggest the expansive, exhaustive, and possibly overblown, Tolstoy was so impressed by the economy of the father of the form that it caused him to look critically at his own vast works. The greatest strength of Fagles' Homeric translations is that they do nothing to slow the narrative. If anything, they argue that, used well, verse can move faster than prose. Musically, though, they strike the ear as a little ugly. They do not have the strange, hieratic quality (so perfect for the Iliad) of Richmond Lattimore's translation, the strange, off-center power of Alan Mandlebaum's, or the Shakespearean resonance of Robert Fitzgerald's. And some of Fagles' strategies (his italicized pronouns and very modern colloquialisms) seem obvious and contrived. Still, Fagles' Odyssey is the one to put into the hands of younger, first-time readers, not least because of its paucity of notes, which, though sometimes frustrating, is a sign that translation has been used to do the work of explanation. Altogether, an outstanding piece of work. Stuart Whitwell

Ted Hughes
Wonderfully readable... Just the right blend of roughness and sophistication.

Wonderfully readable... Just the right blend of roughness and sophistication. (Ted Hughes) Robert Fagles is the best living translator of ancient Greek drama, lyric poetry, and epic into modern English. (Garry Wills, The New Yorker) Mr. Fagles has been remarkably successful in finding a style that is of our time and yet timeless. (Richard Jenkyns, The New York Times Book Review)

Richard Jenkyns, The New York Times Book Review
Mr. Fagles has been remarkably successful in finding a style that is of our time and yet timeless.

Book Description
Robert Fagles’s stunning modern-verse translation—available at last in our black-spine classics line

The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey through life. In the myths and legends that are retold here, renowned translator Robert Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer’s original in a bold, contemporary idiom and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. This is an Odyssey to delight both the classicist and the general reader, and to captivate a new generation of Homer’s students.

Language Notes
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek

About the Author
Homer (c. 8th century BC) is considered the greatest of Greek poets.

Robert Fagles has been awarded the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Bernard Knox is director emeritus of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C.



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