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Old 08-01-2008, 07:18 AM   #1
HarryT
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Thumbs up Thoroughly recommended - "Deluxe" Penguin eBook of "The Odyssey"

I've just bought the Penguin "Deluxe Edition" of Robert Fagle's translation of Homer's "Odyssey" ($10.80 from FictionWise) and would like to recommend it to fellow MR members.

Homer's "Odyssey", as I'm sure most people are aware, is one of the cornerstones of Western Literature. Generally believed to have been composed sometime during the 8th century BC, it tells the story of the 10 year struggle of the Greek hero Odysseus to return home to Ithica following the end of the Trojan War, and the equal struggles of his faithful wife Penelope and son Telemachus at home to resist the advances of the "Suitors" who are trying to win Penelope's hand in marriage, believing Odysseus, who has been away from home for 20 years by the end of the book, to be dead. En-route Odysseus encounters the Cyclops, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, pays a visit to the Underworld, and has all sorts of other wonderful adventures. The Odyssey is one of the greatest "adventure" stories ever written, and almost 3,000 years after its creation, it retains its magic for the modern reader just as much as it did for the ancient world. Indeed, the very word "Odyssey" (which originally simply meant a story about Odysseus) has come into English to mean any journey filled with adventure or unexpected events.

There have been many excellent translations of the Odyssey into English over the years, but the 2002 translation by Robert Fagles, like his translation of the Iliad, is widely regarded as one of the best. It's a faithful, line for line, translation of the original Greek dactylic hexameter verse into English "blank verse" and it retains pretty much as much of the "flavour" of the Greek that it's possible to transfer into an English version.

This is one of the best eBooks I've ever encountered, taking full benefit of all the features of an eBook. Not only does one get a superb introductory essay about the Odyssey (fully linked to the appropriate passages of the poem), but the poem itself is fully annotated, with every proper name, allusion, cross-reference, etc, being linked to an extremely comprehensive end-note which throughly explains it.

The really is a case where the eBook is dramatically "better" than the paper book. I recommend it without hesitation to anyone who has the slightest interest in the subject matter.
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:53 AM   #2
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~sigh~ I really don't need this, Harry. Do you realise how much reading I have backlogged already? And now, this...and this one is important. ~sigh~

No, forget it...no, wait...maybe I'll buy it...no...yeah, well I can buy it, and just sit it behind In Search Of Lost Time (which theoretically is next up...and has been for the last three or four books I've read ~sigh~).

Okay, yeah, I can do that. Where's the harm?

Damn you, Harry.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:09 AM   #3
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There are LOTS of versions of the Odyssey - best way to find this one is to do an author search for "Fagles".
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
There are LOTS of versions of the Odyssey - best way to find this one is to do an author search for "Fagles".
I shall do. I hope you realise that the above is my needlessly obscure way of saying "thank-you". If not, then "thank-you".

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:54 AM   #5
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Thanks, Harry. This is useful to know.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:29 AM   #6
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i might get it as well ; i have a paper copy (in french though) which i treasure because it was given to me by someone very dear to my heart, but notwithstanding that context i loved the story and i would really like to learn more through the notes (the copy i have is quite well annotated as well, which i appreciated, but i just can't get enough of notes...). this seems to me to be precisely the sort of purpose that e-books are perfect for, whether deliberately or no.
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Old 08-01-2008, 11:22 AM   #7
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15$... A little bit steep. The fact that is fully annotated makes it a little bit more worthy, I guess.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:17 PM   #8
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It's only $10.80 if (like me) you're a member of the Fictionwise "club". That's approximately half the price of the equivalent UK paperback (£10.44 from Amazon), and you get something a lot more useful too. I think it's excellent value for money, personally.
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:32 PM   #9
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Thank you for the review. I've added it to my reading list.

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Old 08-01-2008, 11:56 PM   #10
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Very interesting really! I can't say I've added to my reading list quite yet but definitely to my Fictionwise's Wishlist

I'm sure I'll get around to it... before ebooks are an obsolete medium at least.

Thanks for the pointer!
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Old 08-05-2008, 08:13 AM   #11
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I can also recommend the AENEAD by Virgil. If you enjoyed the Iliad, you will like it

cheers,
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:15 AM   #12
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Which version of it do you recommend, kaas?
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:36 AM   #13
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I am afraid that I have read it in German and russian, which would -probably- do you not good
Thus I honestly can not recommend a good English version- sorry

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Old 08-05-2008, 10:38 AM   #14
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I read Virgil in the Latin original, so I'm not too well up on good translations, either .

Again, though, from what I've read of it, the translation by Robert Fagles seems to be very good. For people who prefer prose, David West's translation is also good.
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:06 AM   #15
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damn, latin- I was as happy as a clam once I could stop learning that language
Five years of Latin in school was enough of a torture for me!

I am impressed, HarryT!

cheers,
petr
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