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The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters Hardcover – 22 May 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins; First Edition edition (22 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007335520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007335527
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘[A] brilliant, passionate, world-wandering love letter to Homer … If the only real test of any book about Homer is that it should make you want to go back to Homer, then ‘The Mighty Dead’ passes that test in a blaze of glory’ Sunday Times

‘Nicolson dusts down Homer for a new generation. Superbly written’ Daily Telegraph

‘The book that was waiting to be written … a superbly written account of the poems’ The Times

‘Thrilling and unsettling … [a] wonderfully expressive alloy of travelogue, scholarship and advocacy, which broods with heartfelt grace … Nicolson's books always shine with the Homeric virtues of eloquence, passion, generosity, audacity and candour … He does them proud’ Boyd Tonkin, Independent

‘A hosanna to Homeric wandering and wanderlust … breathes new life into an ancient adventure’ Observer

‘A beautiful study: full of insight, generosity and unaffected passion. The writing is exhilarating’ Guardian

‘A thrillingly energised book … it transmits a whole worldview at once decipherable and dramatically strange … To read Homer is to be struck by what Nicolson calls ‘time-vertigo’ – and this book is one that holds your hand and encourages you to peer over the edge. To read it is to have a fat pair of Homeric jump-leads attached from Nicolson’s sparkling and crackling faculties to your own’ Spectator

‘As gripping as a thriller and as delicately constructed as a sonnet … an astonishing tour de force that reveals Homer to be at once as ancient as papyrus and as modern as MTV … Not only does he have an inward understanding of how Homer’s poetry works, his own prose also has the sharp glitter of a poet’s eye’ Telegraph

‘Erudite, far-ranging in time and space, and provocative …This rich and adventurous book is Nicolson’s own odyssey … [his] enthusiasm is enriching and his examination of the character of the two epics acute and fascinating. Homer matters because he can stimulate books such as this’ Literary Review

Book Description

Why Homer Matters


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Squirr-El TOP 50 REVIEWER on 8 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
The Mighty Dead, Adam Nicholson, William Collins, 2014, 314pp

This is a literary book about the poems of Homer, investigating and analysing the story, the poetry, the background, the influences, and just about every aspect that you can think of. It is extremely well-written, and immerses you in the world of the Ancient Greeks in a way that a traditionally-written history book would have difficulty achieving. There are copious notes and references included here, but tucked away at the back without any indication in the text that is not ‘just’ a book about poetry. I read it over three evenings, and didn’t even notice they were there until I had finished. If you have any interest in the poems of Homer or their place in European culture, this is an excellent view of contemporary research, literary, linguistic, archaeological and whatever, but woven together into a magnificent verbal tapestry.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Victor Hoyland on 17 Dec. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just brilliant.

I worried at first because the book sets out too much that is already common knowledge. Was it just going to continue in this manner?

No. Adam Nicholson has seemingly lived with and in Homer since his childhood, and he generously shares his depth of knowledge about the history, the rich poetry and its expressive technicalities,and the sheer magnificence of the concept of the Iliad and Odyssey.

Hat's off, Gentlemen! this book is a dazzling revelation of such deep understanding of Homer's worth - it is a book that matters.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jane-Anne Shaw VINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I have to confess, I loved this book. But, then, I would: students of Greek Classical studies are prejudiced! However, 'The Mighty Dead' is not an academic tome; it's written in an easy flowing accessible style that belies its deep and wide-ranging scholarship.

The era of Homer's Iliad was the Bronze Age - but there are a series of archaeological event horizons at Troy which date from around 2200BC to 1180BC. There is an age-old division between archaeologists and the ancient texts - being a science, archaeology doesn't hold with aery-faery myth. I tend to imagine the Trojan War as ca. 1450-1380BC. Does it really matter? The Iliad creates its own world.
Nonetheless, there have been discoveries to confirm Homer's Iliad and Odyssey - not least relevant dates for the burning of Troy, the palace of Nestor at 'sandy Pylos' and the Cretan palace of Knossos, (its labyrinthine architecture possibly constructed to take advantage of the winds in the incandescent heat of a southern Mediterranean summer.)
Nicolson's 'take' on Homer is muscular. In the main, the quest in 'The Mighty Dead' was not about finding 'how like us' the ancient Greeks were, in their thinking, practices and beliefs, but how very different. And, as he points out, Odysseus's voyage home to Ithaka, like Jason's to the Black Sea, has been the subject of much speculation - some of it realistic, based on knowledge of ancient seafaring and the construction of galleys, but many other latter-day theories are specious fantasies.

Poetry, for us, is an art form where language is employed for aesthetic purposes as well as semantics. For the ancient Greeks, ποίησις (poiesis) was a 'making' or 'creating.' Homer's words are original, yet come from a supernatural teacher, the breath he inhaled from the Muse.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Allan Mahnke on 20 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is aimed at the general reader and does a wonderful job of explaining the continued importance of the Homeric texts. Having taught these epics for many years, I am grateful for this articulate explanation of the importance of the texts. I wish I could have done it myself.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Sussex Reader on 6 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a truly wonderful book that illuminates, surprises, dazzles and moves. If you ever thought Homer was a difficult inaccessible subject, then this book will completely change your mind. Adam Nicolson demonstrates brilliantly Homer's understanding of humanity and the amazing relevance his writing has for all of us. Thrilling.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr B on 7 Mar. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One may have read the rave reviews from the media when the hardback edition was shortlisted for books of the year in 2014. Media reviewers, unless it is for something like the TLS, rarely explain the reason for their superlatives, so we may be left with a kind of generalised adulation which, because it is generalised, fits into the linguistic contingencies of the PR machinery. I got this partly because of the subject and partly because of the reviews. On reading, I was hooked, very quickly. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the writing, two criteria being clarity and fluidity that writers of first chapters - be it fiction or non-fiction, spend some time and care on; the quality in the main was sustained, and there were passages that I found very beautiful; for example when Nicolson is talking about his experience of sailing and the sea, or when he is paraphrasing an incident in the Odyssey or Illiad, and one has the sense that his love for Homer has enabled Homer again to speak to us. This is really what the book is all about, and why Homer matters.
For anyone who is interested in say, the development of Greek Philosophy, one becomes aware of the Greecean diaspora as Rome established herself, but Homer and Plato ran ahead, in the same sort of way that Shakespeare and Mozart ran ahead of their times, because as their times diminished, their influence did not. Nicolson does not waste time with discussing Plato's view of Homer, for that is not his brief: his brief is to put Homer in context, and the considered erudition does that. Considered, because a) he is aware of what constitutes' popular' in that it must be comprehensible, and if possible, seen as relevant; and b) he is also aware of an innate wish to learn about our origins.
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