I’ve been blogging about The Odyssey for months, but given what a big reading project it was, I feel it deserves its own recap.
Quite simply: everyone should read this book. So much of what we read and enjoy as art, so many of the myths we have internalized so completely we don’t just believe them to be true, we reflex them to be true, (HT Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem), are from this epic. And it is not hard to read. In fact, in Robert Fagle’s translation, and Sir Ian McKellan’s audio version of it (also available on Youtube), it’s not only accessible, but also flat-out enjoyable.
I skipped the intro, read the text, then the after-stuff, then went back to the intro, which sent me from liking to loving the book. I wish I’d used the name-pronunciation guide at the end earlier, as some wrong ones are now ingrained (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pronouce Nausicaa properly–naw SI cay uh, apparently).
I followed my reading of Fagles’ translation by reading a version aloud to my boys, 9 and 11.
The Odyssey (Graphic Classics) retold by Gillian Cross), illustrated by Neil Packer. We read it over several nights, and my own prior reading of the original was invaluable in pointing out things of interest as we went along. Packer’s art is distinct and intriguing, not kiddy-cutesy at all, and was also a point of discussion as we went. Cross did soften the book some (e.g., said they didn’t kill ALL the suitors!) and I wished for more direct lifts of Homer’s own compelling words, but overall we had a great time reading this together.