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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.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
There are reasons this work has stood for 3000 years. We all face the same fundamental human dilemmas illustrated by Achilles, friends and enemies: Life, death, the struggling for meaning...and perhaps the fickle dictates of fate.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful