Book Review: The Odyssey

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 19, 2011

This is a rather late book review, as I finished Robert Fagles’s translation of the Odyssey last month, and just didn’t get around to writing a review until today. As with Fagles’s translation of the Iliad, I found his treatment of the Odyssey to be both very accessible, and deeply moving for the reader. Once again, Bernard Knox made an appearance in the book with another marvelous introduction to the poem, its genesis, and various interpretations of Homer’s work; as with other occasions, his written presence is to be celebrated.

I referenced before Bruce Thornton’s excellent essay on the Odyssey, and how it encapsulates and reflects human struggles, travails, and aspirations. As I mentioned in my previous post, Lattimore’s Odyssey made Odysseus seem like a whiner of sorts when discussing all of the things that happened to him, and kept him far from home. Fagles’s Odyssey reveals Odysseus as “a mastermind like Zeus,” a figure who inspires awe, admiration, and not a little fear from others. I have a feeling that the next time I read Lattimore’s Odyssey–which I stress that I found to be marvelous–I will more easily discern those admirable qualities in Odysseus thanks to having read Fagles.

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