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The Odyssey (Paperback)
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
"Wilson’s language is fresh, unpretentious and lean…It is rare to find a translation that is at once so effortlessly easy to read and so rigorously considered." —Madeline Miller, author of Circe
Composed at the rosy-fingered dawn of world literature almost three millennia ago, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage and family; about travelers, hospitality, and the yearning for home.
This fresh, authoritative translation captures the beauty of this ancient poem as well as the drama of its narrative. Its characters are unforgettable, none more so than the “complicated” hero himself, a man of many disguises, many tricks, and many moods, who emerges in this version as a more fully rounded human being than ever before.
Written in iambic pentameter verse and a vivid, contemporary idiom, Emily Wilson’s Odyssey sings with a voice that echoes Homer’s music; matching the number of lines in the Greek original, the poem sails along at Homer’s swift, smooth pace.
A fascinating, informative introduction explores the Bronze Age milieu that produced the epic, the poem’s major themes, the controversies about its origins, and the unparalleled scope of its impact and influence. Maps drawn especially for this volume, a pronunciation glossary, and extensive notes and summaries of each book make this is an Odyssey that will be treasured by a new generation of readers.
About the Author
Emily Wilson is professor of classical studies and graduate chair of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Wilson attended Oxford University (Balliol College, B.A., and Corpus Christi College, M.Phil.) and Yale University (Ph.D.). In 2006, she was named a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome in Renaissance and Early Modern scholarship, and in 2019 was named a MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to The Odyssey, she has published translations of Euripides, Sophocles, and Seneca. Among her other books are Mocked with Death: Tragic Overliving from Sophocles to Milton; The Death of Socrates: Hero, Villain, Chatterbox, Saint; The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca; and Faithful, a book about translation. Wilson is an editor of The Norton Anthology of World Literature and an advisory editor of the Norton Library.
A masterpiece of translation.
— Rowan Williams, University of Cambridge
A revelation. Never have I been so aware at once of the beauty of the poetry, the physicality of Homer’s world, and the moral ambiguity of those who inhabit it.
— Susan Chira
Emily Wilson’s crisp and musical version is a cultural landmark.… This translation will change the way the poem is read in English.
— Charlotte Higgins
In the history of Odyssey translations, few have exerted such a cultural influence that they become ‘classics’ in their own right.… I predict that Emily Wilson will win a place in this roll-call of the most significant translations of the poem in history. She certainly deserves the honour.
— Edith Hall
Emily Wilson has given us a staggeringly superior translation—true, poetic, lively and readable, and always closely engaged with the original Greek—that brings to life the fascinating variety of voices in Homer’s great epic.
— Richard F. Thomas, Harvard University
When I first read these lines…, I was floored. I’d never read an Odyssey that sounded like this. It had such directness, the lines feeling not as if they were being fed into iambic pentameter because of some strategic decision but because the meter was a natural mode for its speaker.
— Wyatt Mason
In her powerful new translation, Emily Wilson… has chosen immediacy and naturalism over majestic formality. She preserves the musicality of Homer’s poetry, opting for an iambic pentameter whose approachable storytelling tone invites us in, only to startle us with eruptions of beauty.… Wilson’s transformation of such a familiar and foundational work is… astonishing.
— Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Wilson’s translation is a superb achievement and a striking departure from the tradition of Homeric translation into English.… There is no elaborate or antiquated diction, just a crispness and clear-headedness that will seem quite alien to anyone familiar with earlier versions.… Wilson has produced a wonderfully distinctive—and modern—version of the poem.
— Henry Power
Irresistibly readable, Wilson’s Odyssey turns Homeric epic into a poetic feast.
— Froma Zeitlin, Princeton University
This translation is a marvel! Bold and timely and ever so exciting.… As majestic as literature gets.
— Max Porter, author of Grief Is the Thing With Feathers