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“Manguel is not only a gentleman and a scholar but a gentleman as a scholar, offering constellations of connected readings and insights with grace, humor, and tact.” The New Yorker
Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey
978-0-8021-4382-2 • $13.00 • Paperback • Mar. 2009
While it is unknown if there ever was a man named Homer, there is no doubt that the epic poems assembled under his name form the cornerstone of Western literature, feeding our imagination for over two and a half millennia. The Iliad and The Odyssey, with their incomparable tales of the Trojan War, brave Achilles, Ulysses and Penelope, the Sirens, the Cyclops, the beautiful Helen of Troy, and the petulant gods, are familiar to most readers because they are so pervasive.
From Plato to Virgil, Pope to Joyce, the poems have been told and retold, interpreted and embellished. As Manguel writes, “In a very real sense, The Iliad and The Odyssey are familiar to us prior to opening the first page.” In this graceful and sweeping book, Alberto Manguel traces the lineage of the poems from their inception and first recording. He considers the original purpose of the poemseither as allegory of philosophical truth or as a record of historical truthsurveys the challenges the pagan Homer presented to the early Christian world, and how this “primordial spring without which there would have been no culture” spread after the Reformation. Manguel follows Homer through the greatest literature ever created and, above all, delights in the poems themselves.