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I had a hard time getting into this translation when it first came out. The language seemed unnecessarily formal, sometimes downright knotty. I kept comparing it to another line-by-line translation that came out recently, the one by Peter Green, and found greater clarity in his.
What a difference a gifted narrator makes! When I listen to Dominic Keating read this translation, it sounds anything but formal and knotty: yes, it's rhythmic and filled with all the repetitive epithets so dear to Homer's heart, but boy does it have an impact. I actually listened to the Catalogue of the Ships this time around without zoning out, and could almost see the great armies massing on the plain, feeling the vibration of their boots on the ground. The words cut like sharpened bronze.
It comes with a short, clear, and helpful introduction by Alexander that condenses a lot of the material she covered in her book "The War that Killed Achilles".
A reliable source - the most reliable of all, Caroline Alexander herself, in an online chat - said she has no plans to do The Odyssey. It's not that doing The Iliad wore her out, it's just that she doesn't feel the same emotional connection to The Odyssey. I'm sorry to hear that. I've love to hear someone do for that poem what she's done for this one.
Many people have done line-for-line translations of Homer, Richmond Lattimore being the one most often recommended. Lattimore's verse has great dignity but (for me) not nearly so much clarity, and nowhere near the visceral punch.
I've read the Iliad in so many different translations that I have no idea whether this one would be good for a first-time listener. But if you have an interest in Homer, you owe it to yourself to give this one a listen at some point.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful
After having read Why Homer Matters (by Adam Nicolson), I tasked myself to read the source material, having never read it in my formal education. I managed to get half way through a different adaptation when it became a chore to continue so I abandoned listening. Recently, I was highly recommended this translation and I'm glad I gave it another try. The introduction alone gave a succinct encapsulation of "why Homer matters". The Iliad is the source of all storytelling and this translation was incredibly fluid and the narration was completely engaging! I was swept into the drama (which I felt lacking in my last attempt) and I think I would listen to anything read by this narrator.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful