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The Odyssey (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 30 Jan 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (30 Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449112
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


[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 is thought to have lived c.750-700 BC in Ionia and is believed to be the author of the earliest works of Western Literature: The Odyssey and The Iliad.
E V Rieu was a celebrated translator from Latin and Greek, and editor of Penguin Classics from 1944-64. His son, D C H Rieu, has revised his work.
Peter Jones is former lecturer in Classics at Newcastle. He co-founded the 'Friends of Classics' society and is the editor of their journal and a columnist for The Spectator.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Tell me, Muse, the story of that resourceful man who was driven to wander far and wide after he had sacked the holy citadel of Troy. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I will avoid hubris by not attempting to rate "the Odyssey" per se! My five stars are for the translation by E.V. Rieu in the Penguin Classics edition, updated by his son and Peter Jones to make it even more readable for the current generation. The transparent, joyful prose makes this a superb experience for child or adult. It doesn't read like a translation. There is no tortured struggle with the Greek. There are no King James' bible archaisms. I can't see how it could be made more accessible or joyful for modern readers. If a teenager watches a film of this epic and asks for the "book version", give them this this! They will instantly get the message that the film version is never better than the original book.

One reviewer had trouble digesting some paragraphs. Were they reading a different translation? I had little trouble digesting this; the only (slight) difficulty was with the large cast of characters. Greek Gods are dropped in without much explanation, and as I'm not an expert on Ancient Greek Myth I needed some help with placing these endlessly interesting characters. Fortunately the editors provide a superb glossary! This gives you a short sentence about every place and person involved -- no more or less than you need to get on with the story.

Rieu's translation was the first of the Penguin Classics,the series which he and Sir Andrew Lane founded. His aim was to translate classics into good modern English. So I guess he thought he had to to a really good job on this first book. And he did! The vision of founding the Penguin Classics came to him while translating the Odyssey aloud to his wife and daughters while bombs dropped on London during the blitz. You might call him "the ace who launched a thousand books".
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Format: Paperback
The first time, read it for the tale.

The tale of the wandering of Odysseus and the trials, tribulations and adventures that befall him as he attempts to return to his rocky Ithaca and Penelope of the shapely ankles. It's a rollicking read. You'll be reminded of snippets of Sindbad, Aladdin, Watership Down, Captain Corelli's bloody Mandolin and so many other later works that involve a "homecoming". But this was the first.

The first time these stories about men, gods and monsters were all pulled together into a pretty coherent narrative. Most of the sub-tales such as Odysseus' trip into Hell, his encounter with monsters such as Polyphemus the Cyclops and the Harpies; with Proteus, the Sirens and the witch Circe were all probably part of a repetoire of tales delivered by the local poet/entertainer long before someone called Homer grabbed the posthumous glory by having them ascribed to him.

Homecomings are still a pretty popular genre in film, television and print. There must be something in the plot device which touches an unconscious part of us. It's a bit feelgood; it's a bit dreadful. It engages us all. Is Odyseus going to get home? What will happen to his wife and son? What would I do?

So, read it first for the story. And surprise yourself at how well you recognise the motivations and actions of characters placed in these situations over 2700 years ago. We haven't changed much, have we?

Then read it again.

This time, read it for the world of Odysseus. For what it tells you about the way we lived in a pre-literate, feudal society where any kind of progress was hard-won and very easily lost.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read The Odyssey about 60 years ago when a new translation by E. V. Rieu was much publicised and available from Penguin. As a teenager I enjoyed it very much as an adventure story, about which I had heard. I have quite a few books and was confident that my copy was 'somewhere' when I recommended the Odyssey to a readers group to which I belong; it was accepted and added to the list and came up this last month. I could not find my copy; the library could not obtain a 'Rieu' copy, in time, so I visited my friendly Amazon website. I found the Rieu was still available but, in addition to the original, a later version is available that has been slightly revised by the son of E.V.; I ordered and have read it again. Although I read with a lifetime of experience behind me I really enjoyed it once again. This time, however, I have both the introduction by E V from 1946 and a DCHR Preface of 2002, which begins with'My Father E. V. ...' in which the son, DCHR, later refers to his father as EVR. It is obvious that both Father and Son love and respect Homer.
Read the story and then the DCHR Preface followed by the PVJ Introduction with His analysis of the construction of the 'plot' and why it is arranged in the way that it is.
Finally, I learned that the EVR translation gave us the very first book in the Penguin Classics series. A Really Fine package; you will be glad to own and treasure it. Just do not mislay it, you never know ...!
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Format: Kindle Edition
This book is a joy to encounter. It is an English translation of Homer's (c.750BCE) ancient Greek Classic, often referred to as the second book in Western literature - the first being Homer's Illiad. It is the story of Odysseus' 20 year return journey back to the Greek island of Ithaca, from the Trojan War - the Trojan War campaign being the subject of the Illiad. It is believed to have originally been a poem describing events dating to around 1,200BCE. Homer appears to have written this story of oral tradition onto paper for the first time. Although Homer lived in the 8th century (BCE), which was the Iron Age in Greece, the Odyssesy continuously refers to weapons and armour being made of bronze, which again suggest an earlier time. However, although the core of the story may well be hundreds of years older thanHomer's time, nevertheless, certain curious contemporary practices appear to be recorded. In around 1,200 BCE, the habit for dealing with the dead was burial, in Homer's time it was cremation. Homer cites in the Odyssesy that dead people were 'cremated'. This means that oral traditions are not static but continue to develop all the time, around a much older core story.

The paperback (1991) edition contains 394 numbered pages and contains the following sections:

1) Preface.
2) Introduction - Peter V Jones.
3) Brief Reading List - Peter V Jones.
4) The Odyssesy - Pages 1-394.

The original text of this translation was published in 1946, by EV Rieu, the co-founder of the Penguin Classics series (with Sir Allen Lane). The purpose of this series was to produce modern English version of literary classics that everyone could easily access. The Oydssey was the first published Penguin Classic, whilst the Illiad was the second.
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