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Memorial Paperback – 4 Oct 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571274188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571274185
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Oswald doesn't so much revise as explode the tradition of translation ... [her] radiant poetry of remembrance will not be readily forgotten.' -- Independent <p /<>p > 'This is remembering on a grand scale. This is a concentrated, intense, multi-tasking elegy. And it is written with a freshness to match Homer's own ... I long to hear Memorial performed; it would be tremendous. As the death toll rises, one becomes aware that only one thing survives - a life force carrying everything with it: the poem itself.' -- Observer p/ ><p/ >'It is a delight to read ... a modernised version that delights in the unexpected... Read Alice Oswald in order to be reminded how such an everlasting work can still shock, even in the 21st century.' --Economist

'Precise and scalpel-sharp ... The words are Homer's but refracted through [Oswald's] own lucent poetic imagination. She stitches into this unadorned fabric some of the glorious similes of Homer ... It is an exquisite and brutal thing taken entirely on its own terms. It's a major achievement.' -- Guardian<p/ >

'Magnificent ... This beautiful, bleak poem ... Oswald has achieved a miraculous feat. She's exposed a skeleton, but foundsomething magnificently eerie and rich. She has truly made, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Spender, a "minature iliad", taut, fluid and graceful, its tones knelling like bells into the clear air, ringing out in remembrance of all the untimely dead.' --Telegraph

Book Description

Memorial, by Alice Oswald, is a glitteringly original new poem which is also a version of Homer's Iliad, from the T. S. Eliot Prize-winning poet.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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By Hande Z TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Would you like to read Homer's Iliad in under two hours? This 84-page book, including 8 pages of the names of fallen warriors, one after the other in the order as they had fallen. Their names appearing as in a memorial of the dead in single columns. Oswald tells us in the first line of her introduction that "This is a translation of the Iliad's atmosphere, not its story". It is a fast paced account of the heroic and tragic moments in tenth year of the war. She skips the proem of the Iliad, which is traditionally in book One, where Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek expedition and Achilles, arguably the most famous name in the Iliad are introduced. Excluded are thus the main events, including one of my favourites - the chariot race in honour of Patroklos' death (traditonally, Book 23). Can the atmosphere of the war be adequately captured with the omissions of those events? The modern reader, familiar with the Second World War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the more recent wars against faceless, nameless enemies known only as "Terrorists", will surely appreciate what this book seeks to achieve. Achilles the great hero was only mentioned in passing since only the dead were honoured in this memorial and given names in block letters. And Hector, the main Trojan closes Oswald's book with his death, told in Oswald's verse without fanfare or excitement, just profoundly; the words ring the entire Iliad - as it does all human strife:

"And HECTOR died like everyone else
He was in charge of the Trojans
But a spear found out the little patch of white
Between his collarbone and his throat
Just exactly where a man's soul sits
waiting for the mouth to open
He always knew it would happen".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I came across a snatch of this on a serendipitous radio listening and I wanted to hear the rest. I love Christopher Logue's robust transliterations of the Illiad, and this is to my ear, the chorus's lament to his poems, an elegiac listing of names of the fallen and blunt hard statements of cause, interjected with beautiful free poetic translations of Homer's evocations of the field and landscape of battle through his smilies. A bewitching piece that has you reading it aloud before you notice that that is what you are doing.
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Format: Hardcover
Memorial elevates Alice Oswald to the position of England's premier poet in my view, building on her superb earlier books. This work is both moving and relevant. Decribed as an "excavation" of Homer's "The Iliad" it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone poem in its own right. A dramatic and serious tone is set from the beginning, with the first few pages listing the names of the war dead: each soldier's name being given the respect and gravity of an individual line. Astonishing writing follows, full of powerful simile and metaphor that made me gasp out loud at times. Oswald is one of only a few modern poets to truly be influenced by Ted Hughes, but it should be stressed she has a distinctive, original, voice of her own. In addition to this her ideas, projects and way of working seem quite unique. She talked in a reading I once saw her give of being interested in oral narratives being passed on through the ages, not only classical but from various cultures around the world, and this interest has reached fruition in this work. The fact it has been written at a time when the poet's own country is deeply involved in war adds to its poignancy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was persuaded to order a copy of this book by a very positive review in a newspaper but was not really sure what I was going to get. In fact it is a stripped down meditation on the Iliad responding to the many many deaths of the also-rans, the largely marginal figures in the story. The accounts of their deaths are brief almost incantatory cries of despair at the futility of war and the hollow-ness of nobility. Cumulatively they become something very powerful that has the immediacy and imaginative force of a great war memorial - one of the most affecting pieces of writing that I have read for a very long time and something to which I am sure I will return many times. I am in awe at what has been accomplished in this work.
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Format: Paperback
I've heard Alice Oswalk recite this twice now. It is magical. If she is performing it anywhere near you then go and hear it. It exists, I believe, as an audio book. It also exists as a standard book. I have now bought a copy so that I can return to the half-remembered names of the dead who fell at the siege of Troy and how they died, and repeated lines of simile which transform a casualty list into a work of art.

She performs in a voice little above a whisper (although that is amplified, so you'll be fine if you're at the back), standing at a lectern on a bare, unlit stage. It really is an experience. Be warned: the performance takes an hour and a half. You will not want to wriggle, cough or clap during that time so make sure you are comfortable before she starts!

Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
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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