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The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic

Overview

"Armitage has given an ageless story new vigor, and has done it with style, wit and elegance."—Literary Review
In this new verse adaptation, originally commissioned for BBC radio, Simon Armitage has recast Homer's epic as a series of bristling dramatic dialogues: between gods and men; between no-nonsense Captain Odysseus and his unruly, lotus-eating, homesick companions; and between subtle Odysseus (wiliest hero of antiquity) and a range of shape-shifting adversaries—Calypso, Circe, the Sirens, the Cyclops—as he ...

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Overview

"Armitage has given an ageless story new vigor, and has done it with style, wit and elegance."—Literary Review
In this new verse adaptation, originally commissioned for BBC radio, Simon Armitage has recast Homer's epic as a series of bristling dramatic dialogues: between gods and men; between no-nonsense Captain Odysseus and his unruly, lotus-eating, homesick companions; and between subtle Odysseus (wiliest hero of antiquity) and a range of shape-shifting adversaries—Calypso, Circe, the Sirens, the Cyclops—as he and his men are "pinballed between islands" of adversity. One of the most individual voices of his generation, Armitage revitalizes our sense of the Odyssey as oral poetry, as indeed one of the greatest of tall tales.

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Editorial Reviews

James Parker
Originally commissioned by the BBC and broadcast in 2004, Armitage's version is a radio play—a play for voices, now published in book form. At times, the reader may feel something is missing: The descriptive sentences that punctuate the dialogue are fairly terse ("Delirious and breathless, Odysseus collapses on the floor"), and one can only guess at the fun some BBC basement wizard must have had with the sound effects (thunderbolts, shades lapping at a puddle of freshly spilled blood and so on). For these moments of wistfulness, however, we are more than compensated by Armitage's pincer-move on Homer's epic, his combination of deep attentiveness and refreshing imaginative license.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

One of Britain's most successful poets, the versatile and clever Armitage follows up his translation of the medieval poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" with this engaging and compulsively readable adaptation of Homer's epic, in which the wily sailor-hero Odysseus must outplay, outwit or outlast seductive nymphs, a malevolent enchantress, a one-eyed giant, and his own impious crew in order to reach his home island, his son and his faithful wife. Written for BBC radio, Armitage's version is not a translation of the ancient Greek epic, but rather a dramatic rendering, divided into scenes with parts (mostly in verse) for voice actors. Armitage delivers fast paced and decidedly contemporary language: Odysseus himself envisions "A freak wave cracking the keel of some poor sailing ship.... Just the Gods doing their thing." The transformation of a tale about one man into exchanges among sets of characters can make things seem choppy early on, but it pays off when Odysseus reaches home and has to maintain his disguise until he can slaughter his wife's suitors. Armitage's play will entertain, if not enlighten, anyone interested in the fresh ways that Homer's story can be told. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393330816
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 266
  • Sales rank: 778,455
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Armitage is an award-winning poet who has published ten volumes of poetry and translations of both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Death of King Arthur. He is professor of poetry at the University of Sheffield, England.

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