By Homer (Translated by Robert Fagles)
A magical experience, this 2,700-year-old poem reads to a surprising extent like a modern novel. It has a sophisticated structure, with alluring subplots and flashbacks supporting the central story of Odysseus, the exhausted, traumatized veteran of the Trojan War, and his decadelong struggle to get back home across a wonderfully evoked world of strange islands and dangerous seas.
It's about the memory of home and the fear that it may no longer correspond to reality, the sadness of losing comrades, the kindness of strangers, the will to keep going against relentless obstacles, and a whole lot more. Robert Fagles's translation is full of startling, lovely phrases, giving weight to the view that for all its narrative drive and psychologically complex characters, this work should be read as verse.
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