Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grim myth, excellent translation, 20 Mar. 2005
This review is from: The Odyssey (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
I haven't read any other translations of 'The Odyssey', so don't have any grounds for comparison but, in terms of style alone, can heartily recommend Walter Shewring's effort. The language is clear and avoids the trap of being too archaic just because it is an old story (3000 years old, give or take). I read the odd classic and tend to take a deep breath before I start, preparing for the occasional hard slog. 'The Odyssey' was a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read.
The story itself is fairly familiar. Odysseus is delayed on his return home from Troy by the anger of the Gods. He faces many trials, such as the Sirens and the Cyclops before his is reunited with his son (Telemachus) and, ultimately, his wife. Before he can resume his old life, however, he must dispatch the suitors who have gathered to wed his wife, believing that he is dead. All the while he is being helped and hindered by the Gods. Before reading this, I hadn't realised that Odysseus' adventures are told as a flashback after his return to Ithica, and that they take up only about half of the book. The second half concerns the slaughter of the suitors and is slower moving, but still immensely enjoyable. The bloodthirstyness, and body count, rivals an average Schwarzenegger movie, as Odysseus fornicates and hacks his way round the Agean Sea. Not one for the children.
If you, like me, wanted to read 'The Odyssey' because of its status, but weren't really looking forward to it, then go for this translation. It captures the tone brilliantly, but is never over-stuffy or grandiose. I enjoyed it a lot and, like the blurb on the back, don't see how it could be better.
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