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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful literary commentary
Alberto Manguel, well-known Argentinian writer and literary critic, was chosen as the commentator on the Iliad and the Odyssey in the Atlantic's excellent 'book biographies' series. He does so with the erudition, the insight, the wit, and the cultural knowledge that he has justly become renowned for. Few people love books as much as Alberto Manguel does, and fewer still...
Published on 11 May 2009 by M. A. Krul

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1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL ILIAD/ODYSSEY
As a Greek by origin I thought I would read up on the great literature of my country. What better than the Iliad & Odyssey. So without really looking I just grabbed this, and was disappointed to find it was actually an analysis of them and their influence as opposed to the books themselves. So messed up there. Only buy this if you are an english or classics enthusiast, or...
Published on 30 Nov 2011 by Mr. A. Droulias


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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful literary commentary, 11 May 2009
By 
M. A. Krul (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Homer's the "Iliad and the "Odyssey": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World) (Paperback)
Alberto Manguel, well-known Argentinian writer and literary critic, was chosen as the commentator on the Iliad and the Odyssey in the Atlantic's excellent 'book biographies' series. He does so with the erudition, the insight, the wit, and the cultural knowledge that he has justly become renowned for. Few people love books as much as Alberto Manguel does, and fewer still are capable of conveying this love so well to the reader. Homer's epics, treasures of world literature, are for this reason the ideal playing field for Manguel's literary exploration.

The book starts with discussions of the content of the Iliad and the Odyssey, the possible nature and historical context of Homer, the works' role in oral tradition and comparisons to famous oral bardic traditions in other regions (in particular here Milman Parry's pathbreaking comparative work on Homer), and so on. Then Manguel delves into the reception of the books: in more or less chronological order tracing their status and importance, as well as their influence on other writers from Virgil to Dante to Joyce, through the ages. This is supremely interesting material, and Manguel is a serious though light-hearted guide to the wealth of material on and about Homer and his works, from Medieval Catholic reception to Margaret Atwood's feminist interpretations.

Alberto Manguel also, as might be expected, takes his time to consider some of the different translations of the poems that have been made, into English as well as other languages; choosing for this book itself the authoritative modern Penguin translation by Robert Fagles (recently deceased) whom my parents had still known. He reveals here some remarkable information about the degree to which Homer was lost in the original during the Middle Ages - Dante himself had probably not read him in Greek, nor had he ever heard of Sophocles and Aeschylus, who were also yet to be rediscovered in his time. Latin was the dominant language, especially in Catholic circles, for the transmission of Homeric culture for a long time.

At the closing of the book, Manguel reflects upon the effect of the works themselves as literary achievements, and considers why they have always, in such different times and places, made such a strong impact on the reader. He concludes that it is the tension between love of war, adventure and wildness on the one hand, and abhorrence of violence, wanton destruction (from fickle Gods) and disorder on the other hand, both equally part of the human condition, that is so forcefully expressed in the Homeric epics. Manguel's book itself will also be a delight for lovers of literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book, 25 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Homer's the "Iliad and the "Odyssey": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World) (Paperback)
I bought this book for my husband, I thought I was buying the actual books of Iliad and the Odyssey but instead this book was just giving you an in site into both the books. My husband enjoyed reading the book though.
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1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL ILIAD/ODYSSEY, 30 Nov 2011
By 
Mr. A. Droulias "Tazly" (Solihull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Homer's the "Iliad and the "Odyssey": A Book That Shook the World (Books That Shook the World) (Paperback)
As a Greek by origin I thought I would read up on the great literature of my country. What better than the Iliad & Odyssey. So without really looking I just grabbed this, and was disappointed to find it was actually an analysis of them and their influence as opposed to the books themselves. So messed up there. Only buy this if you are an english or classics enthusiast, or have trouble falling asleep.
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