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Why Homer Matters : A History
by Adam Nicolson


Overview -

"Adam Nicolson writes popular books as popular books used to be, a breeze rather than a scholarly sweat, but humanely erudite, elegantly written, passionately felt and his excitement is contagious." James Wood, "The New Yorker"

Adam Nicolson sees the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" as the foundation myths of Greek and our consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.  Read more...


 
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More About Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson
 
 
 
Overview

"Adam Nicolson writes popular books as popular books used to be, a breeze rather than a scholarly sweat, but humanely erudite, elegantly written, passionately felt and his excitement is contagious." James Wood, "The New Yorker"

Adam Nicolson sees the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" as the foundation myths of Greek and our consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.

"Why Homer Matters" is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by the poems themselves and their metaphors of life and trouble. Homer's poems occupy, as Adam Nicolson writes "a third space" in the way we relate to the past: not as memory, which lasts no more than three generations, nor as the objective accounts of history, but as epic, invented after memory but before history, poetry which aims "to bind the wounds that time inflicts."

The Homeric poems are among the oldest stories we have, drawing on deep roots in the Eurasian steppes beyond the Black Sea, but emerging at a time around 2000 B.C. when the people who would become the Greeks came south and both clashed and fused with the more sophisticated inhabitants of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The poems, which ask the eternal questions about the individual and the community, honor and service, love and war, tell us how we became who we are."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781627791793
  • ISBN-10: 1627791795
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
  • Publish Date: November 2014
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.78 x 6.46 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.12 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Literary Criticism > Ancient and Classical
Books > Literary Criticism > Poetry
Books > History > Ancient - Greece

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-09-29
  • Reviewer: Staff

British author Nicolson (The Gentry) contemplates the towering legacy of the Iliad and Odyssey, while probing the mysteries of Homer’s identity and birthplace. Scholars insist on the eighth century B.C.E. as the origin of the epics, but Nicolson provides intriguing archeological and linguistic evidence that they are considerably older, including Milman Perry’s studies placing the epics within an oral tradition of an illiterate era. Nicolson’s language does credit to his muse, describing Homer’s style as a “neck-gripping physical urgency,” and Achilles as “a beacon of hate... radiant with horror,” whose combat is a “crazed berserker frenzy of... grief-fueled rampage.” He shares personal feelings about Homer becoming his “guidebook to life” and a “kind of scripture,” even a means of therapeutic reflection after a traumatic event. However, the cultural differences between the roaming warrior Greeks and the cultured, established Trojans elicit shortsighted comparisons to modern gang life. More careful consideration is given to the poems’ major themes and settings, particularly the islands Odysseus visited, and Nicolson makes a strong case for the Odyssey’s “Hades” location lying in Southern Spain, perhaps symbolizing a Bronze Age copper mine near Rio Tinto. Nicolson’s penetrative insight into the Homeric universe is a largely successful piece of scholarship accessible to a wide audience. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Agency. (Nov.)

 
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