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Book: The Odyssey

Author: Homer
Translator: Robert Fagles
Started: 18 Nov 2006
Finished: 15 Apr 2007
541p / 149d
4 p/d

My “book pile” is still in boxes and has never been unpacked and put back in order, so when I finish a book, I am somewhat making arbitrary choices for what to read next rather than going for the next thing in what is supposed to be in order. I really need to fix that. Anyway, this time I decided I wanted to read The Odyssey. First of all, quite a few years ago, before this blog existed, I had heard something on the radio about the new Fagles translation of the Odyssey. That would put this around 1996. At that time, I became interested in reading it, but decided I had to read his translation of the Illiad first. So I did at that time. And I enjoyed it quite a bit. I remember being rather excited by it. And I had intended to soon after read the Odyssey, but I never got around to it. Until now. Also, Amy was reading the Odyssey this year for school, so it seemed like a good time.

I’ll be honest, I was a little disappointed. Especially in comparison to my memories of reading the Iliad a decade ago. I remember that as being fresh and interesting with new discoveries and interesting things on most pages. I just didn’t feel that way this time. But I can pinpoint it on one thing I think. This story is much more familiar. Of course I’d read (or I was supposed to have read) the Odyssey back in school. Plus almost every story within the Odyssey has become essentiality well known bits of popular culture and have been reused as story elements in all sorts of other things. So it was all just very familiar. For the most part I knew what was coming next. It just didn’t have the same joy as reading something new for the first time, even though I hadn’t actually read this translation before… and I’m pretty sure back in school I actually only read parts of it.

What did I find most interesting? The Introduction and the Notes on the Translation. I learned new things there.

This is not to say the story itself sucks or anything, but it didn’t hold my attention and compel me on to the next page. And this is clearly seen by my reading rate. This clocked in at a really sad 4 pages per day, and that’s only after I round to the nearest whole number. It was actually more like 3.6 pages per day. Sad. Very sad.

I finished 11 books in 2006. (Filter my blog by the Books Category to see just the books.) I’ll have to pick some books I am more “in to” for the rest of the year and pick up my pace to improve that in 2007. 11 books in a year is pitiful. I used to read so much more than that. I mean, at least a book a month! Hell, even a book a week should be reasonable. I need to carve more time out of my schedule for reading.

Anyway… one more Odyssey note. I remember when I read this in school being very upset by the scene with Argos the dog. That was the one most memorable section of the whole poem for me back then. This time I expected it, and it did not have anywhere near the same emotional impact. Oh well.

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