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Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey: A Biography (Books That Changed the World) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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Manguel's book is a whirlwind tour of the wisdom and imagination of his subject.
-- The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The Iliad and The Odyssey are perhaps the most influential works in the history of western literature. This exquisite analysis of their creation and influence establishes how, precisely, these two poems, written nearly three thousand years ago, have come to resonate throughout the world. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product description
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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.
The author tells an amazing biography of Homer. Actually, he tells us many biographies of Homer. Was Homer a real person, or an imaginary one? In other words, did Homer really exist? Was Homer a woman (some scholars think so)? Did Homer write the Iliad and the Odyssey, or did many bards throughout the centuries write them (each adding to the story line)? Those are really fascinating questions, and what's more fascinating, is that no one really knows the answers. Scholars have their own theories, and many disagree with each other. So who really was Homer (if he ever existed that is)? Was Homer a poet, a philosopher, a prophet...?
It is fascinating that the city of Troy was discovered in the twentieth century, making Homer's stories more real. Did the characters in the Iliad and Odyssey exist as well? Did the beautiful Helen exist, or was she a figment of Homer's imagination? No one really knows.
The author starts the book by giving a short summary of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I found this very useful since I had forgotten some of the stories.
The author also explains the impact the Iliad and the Odyssey had throughout history on those who read them. For example, how did the Christians and the Muslims view these two masterpieces? I particularly found the chapter on the Muslims and Homer very interesting.
Another interesting fact is that not all translations of Homer's work are equal. Lucky are the readers who can read his work in the original Greek. For the rest of us, choosing the right translation is important. In this book, the author chooses the translation of Robert Fagles.
The chapter on Virgil was extremely interesting. Some scholars wanted Homer's books banned from schools in favor of Virgil's books.
How did different writers and scholars view Homer throughout the ages? Interestingly, some viewed Homer as vulgar and interested only in wars. He was accused of being immoral, and some wanted the Iliad and Odyssey banned from schools. Dante, for example, placed Homer in Hell in his book `The Divine Comedy.'
Other scholars viewed Homer's stories as an explanation of the human state (one of pain and misery). Whatever the interpretation of Homer's work, his literary masterpieces were required readings in all schools and universities! I certainly had to read both the Iliad and the Odyssey back when I was in school, and I'm glad I did.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I highly recommend it for all serious readers!
Not sure why I must write a review of x number of words. The first line is sufficient to convey my opinion.
Imagine our chagrin when we sat back to enjoy Homer's stories, and fast forwarded past the preamble - all the way to the end of the book!
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