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4.8 out of 5 stars
Memorial
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on 5 September 2013
Memorial gives us short biographies of heroes of Homer's Iliad - drawn from Homer, descriptions of their deaths, and similes Homer uses to describe their deaths. Alice Oswald sees this as a translation of the atmosphere of Homer, without the narrative.

Remarkably enough, this is very successful. It's many years since I read Homer, but this seems amazingly true to the spirit of much of the poem I suspect there is more to Homer by way of world-view (shame culture etc) over and above the main narrative that is missing here. Indeed, there's a world view, as Alice Oswald move into the final pages with a few similes of wider import, not linked to individual deaths, but which relate to the whole of what's been described. These might suggest something slightly different about war - but I found it all remarkable convincing and would strongly recommend it to others.
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on 13 February 2012
Having had the good fortune to hear Alice Oswald perform 'Memorial' last week I recommend strongly that this is the way you first experience what she's done with The Iliad in 'Memorial'. It takes her an hour and a quarter, more or less, and she delivers this testosterone-filled material (which, let us not forget, she has also written) in such a rhythmical, low-key way that one wonders if one will stay awake in the warm dark. But the performance is RIVETING. Best hour and a quarter I've spent in a long time.

Get the CD first.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2011
The CD is definetely worth getting. Alice Oswald is a marvelous reader of her own work. It's only an hour long and can be listened to in one sitting.
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on 24 January 2015
A wonderful recording of Memorial by the poet herself. It is a profoundly moving piece that remains fresh and alive - though it deals with death - on each hearing. Oswald's reading is mesmeric - I know of no other poet who can read their own work so engagingly. The CD recording is of excellent quality and it arrived well-packaged and in perfect condition. I also highly recommend ordering the text of the poem - available in paperback from Faber - to accompany the CD.
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on 24 January 2015
There is no other poet today who writes like Alice Oswald. She is quite simply a unique voice who, in this piece of work, reimagines the events of the ancient world in a way that is contemporary, relevant, urgent and visceral. I highly recommend that anyone purchasing Memorial should also order the CD recording of the poem, read by the poet herself. It is haunting, mesmerizing and thrilling.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2013
This long poem is a response to Homer's Illiad which makes clear that any war poem is really a death poem. It reveals The Illiad as a poem which memorializes all the fallen in that long war at Troy and demonstrates that The Illiad was never a poem which glorified war, whatever generation of classics teachers have said.
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on 2 July 2014
A poem about the ageless, relentless , needless waste of life that is war. I am no classicist. There is something so haunting about this poem. The similes are breathtaking. Read it or hear it on poetry archive
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on 23 September 2012
Beautifully written and thoughtful.
We shall think life and learn from fiction .
Our personal and shared memory of fictional events that once existed to narrate the unbearable reality
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on 12 April 2014
Alice Oswald takes the lesser known/unknown characters of Homer's Illiad and creates the Homeric pathos of war and death around their fates and elevates to the heights of heroes.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2011
This powerful retelling and translation of Homer's Iliad, subtitled an "Excavation of the Iliad", consists of a haunting list of the men who die in it, each with perhaps some small biographical detail or story of how they die. Interspersed though these deaths are similes, about which Oswald says, 'my similes are translations' of a irreverent kind, they are 'openings through which to see what Homer was looking at'. Oswald aims for 'translucence rather than translation'. This poem is beautiful in its remembrance of the dead heroes of Homer's epic, and beautiful in its sorrow. The starkness of stripping away from Homer the background of the war, the feuds of the Zeus and Hera, Athena and Ares and the other gods, and leaving just the short stories of the men who die, is to my opinion a stroke of genius and wonder to read. Oswald's use of language is spartan and sparing; yet the poem still mediates Homer's intense beauty. Whether you're a hardened Classicist, a passionate lover of Greek Epic or a confused neophyte daunted by the many lengthy and cumbersome English translations of the Iliad, I would heartily recommend that you read this short and stunningly beautiful book.
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