Saturday, July 23

Book: The Iliad, Homer Click for more info

The Iliad has become the first book that I've had to bail on part way through. I didn't even get that far, which I guess makes sense seeing as if I had I probably would have stuck to it. But whatever the detail, I am a little sad that it's come to this.

It's my own fault really. I wasn't really well informed on what The Iliad and its background was - caught up in the fervour of the Hollywood rendition as well as my own personal interest in Greek mythology made me throw caution to the wind and just buy (that's right, buy) a copy. Not only that, but I bought The Odyssey too (which seems destined to remain in pristine condition), both of which were translated by George Chapman.

There are many reasons I've struggled so badly with this book. The first is that it's a poem. As someone who is more literal than poetic, I really don't like poetry. I think it's forced, obtuse and one of the most inefficient ways to communicate anything.

The other reason is that since it was originally written in Greek, I had to pick a translation and as such there are many versions of the same. I may have, perhaps, picked the least friendly of these and the poetry format aside I simply couldn't understand the language used by Chapman. It was almost like a foreign language to me. After two books (or chapters) I had no idea of what was going on - I could have been reading a book in French and I'd probably understand more. What's really frustrating is how during my brief hunt for review before buying the two books many said how easy it was to read. But hey, perhaps I'm just not smart enough.

So yes, as I get older and realise how little time I have to spend on this stuff, I've had little option but to ditch The Iliad as well as The (unread) Odyssey. But that's not to say my interest in Homer has waned; no, if anything I now know to go for perhaps a modern prose translation of the two classics. Watch this space I guess, but in the meantime unless you're some sort of Literature degree student, I would steer well clear of Chapman's The Iliad.

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