Translated by Stanley Lombardo. Introduction by Susan Sarandon.
©2000 Hackett Publishing Company; (P)2006 Parmenides Publishing
"Stanley Lombardo provides a welcome translation, contemporary in its rhythms, assurance, and clarity....this version of the Greek classic sounds honest, intimate, and, most importantly, clear." (AudioFile)
Even more captivating than its sister saga "Iliad" this translation and performance succeeds brilliantly in bringing a historic classic alive for the modern listener/reader. The images are vibrant, the saga captivates. Absolutely a fabulous listen - it is as if you are sitting around a fire as the storyteller takes you on a journey!
I have many translations of Homer ...Fitzgerald, Fagles etc ... and have begun them all. Finished none. Something always bothered me. Finally realizing they seemed "contrived". Reading them also seemed ... wrong. Homer was spoken ...even performed. Yes it's all been said but ... I speaking Italian fluently and realize translating Italian poetry to English in the same meter with forced rhymes (English famously not as Poetic as Italian or Greek) is iffy at best. I am also a writer of poetry, music and musician. With Stanley Lombardo it sounds "natural." Unforced. And ...most importantly, natural, understandable and entertaining which were and are the first principles of any entertainer. With which Homer was certainly most concerned. Closing my eyes ...with a "wine dark glass with cut apples and pears" soaking in it and a good cigar) outside. THIS is as close to imagining Homer reciting. This is how life should be lived.
I had just finished listening to Dan Stevens' remarkable reading of The Odyssey, translated by Robert Fitzgerald. But my Homer itch hadn't been fully scratched. For relief I turned to an old favorite - Stanley Lombardo reading his own translation of The Odyssey.
Lombardo's version is equally remarkable, but in a very different way. Where Fitzgerald is stately and heroic ("lift the great song again"), Lombardo is earthy and immediate. Lombardo developed his version originally for public performance, and his reading reflects that: it's brisk, rhythmic, and varied.
I don't read Greek, ancient or modern, and can't recommend one over the other in terms of accuracy. What I CAN say is that both are successful narrative poems in English, although they seem to be almost intentionally at opposite ends of the diction continuum.
One of the things I enjoy about the Lombardo recording is that Susan Sarandon provides a brief synopsis of each book beforehand. Another thing I like is the musical theme that plays as each episode begins. I've heard people complain about the fact that it's the same theme each time; but to my way of thinking, that's an asset. It serves to set the mood and it ties together the various parts of this extremely varied work of literature.
Here is an audiobook that I will listen to and recommend to others because the story is timeless and the rendering in word and in voice is so fresh and clear.
It was when I began to realize just how foreign to our modern way of thinking is the whole pantheon of gods and godesses quarreling and playing tricks that formed the traditional foundation of ancient Greek life. We may view nature and the things that happen to us as the result of impersonal, physical forces or, perhaps, those forces being superintended by a benevolent, omnicient, omnipotent and omnipresent God. But o the Greeks of Homer's day, either notion would have seemed sacreligious and absurd.
Reading his own translation, Stanley Lombardo gave the characters the right pacing and inflection. Although he is not as gifted a reader as my favorite narrator, John Lee, the modern translation was so refreshing and clear that I didn't miss John's well-modulated tones. Some may feel that this translation was too 'free' compared with the cononical version, but it felt more natural to me. Susan Sarandon's voice was pleasant and her comments were helpful to visualize the structure of the chapter and to learn about the cultural aspects that are unknown to most of us. For example, Homer expects his audience to understand that women slaves washed the tired bodies of men, but that custom is as strange to us as their view of the dead in Hades. So having those brief introductions read by her was very helpful to me.
It was when Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, came back to his home and his faithful dog, Argos, dies after recognizing his master. Odysseus cannot allow anyone to realize that the dog recognized him, so he hides his tears. I am still very touched just to remember that scene representing faithulness and love.
Rumor has it that Prof. Lombardo plays the drums in the musical interludes introducing each chapter. If so, his drums and the haunting melody on a flute are a portal to move from Susan Sarandon's helpful introductions to travel back to the story. Penelope comes across as a strong hero in her own right and not some shrinking wallflower. Trying to imagine what life was like for even those at the top of society was quite a stretch.
Mr. Lombardo's translation isn't poetic, but The Odyssey was originally an oral epic, meant to entertain and instruct the common man, (not the highbrows of the day). This translation is down to earth and easy to understand without losing any of Homer's dignity, so get ready for some swashbucking.
Sound quality is excellent for Audible, Ms. Sarandon gives a summary each chapter at its beginning, while sometimes unnecessary, this makes the story easy to follow. Mr. Lombardo does an excellent job reading his translation and speaks very clearly. Even though I'm a hardcore LOTR fan I still think that Lombardo's reading seems more natural than Sir Ian's reading of Fagles translation. Also the music in between chapters is nice and won't destroy your ears (like the audiobook for the Fagles translation) will.
Waited for a long time to listen to an audio version of Odyssey. I was not aware of the extreme differences in translation until I started listening to Lombardo's translation and his use of conversational English. I prefer the transalation of Robert Fagle. Fagle's translation seems have the atmosphere of the poems more as they would have been in Homer's era. It is all translation we listen to which brings great changes with it anyway. I am not a scholar but do believe it is important to preserve the "feel" which this one does not for me. It seems more like a comic book form. I will listen to it but am disappointed and wished I had done a bit more research before downloading this version.
Among my favorites.
The age of this story amazes me. One could make a 21st century movie of this and still capture the attention of audiences.
The introductions by Susan Sarandon help explain the set-up for listeners who may not be familiar with this style of writing. Very well done.
There are few works of fiction that I bother to read more than once, but I have reread the Odyssey numerous times. The techniques that Homer uses, such as having other characters tell us about Odysseus for the first 4 books, seem so modern. And it's a classic "Show, don't tell" work, as we learn about the characters through what they say and doo rather than from the author's lengthy descriptions.
I have read several translations, and I would compare this one to the one by E V Rieu that we used in high school decades ago. By this I mean it is good readable, and listenable, English. The short summaries of each book are short enough not to be bothersome if you don't need them, but would help the first-time listener.
Lombardo's reading is superb. He reads at just the right speed. And the expression he puts into each character's words is convincing.
If you've never read the Odyssey before, you're depriving yourself of a great story brilliantly told. And for those who enjoyed it long ago, it won't be a waste of reading time to have another go.
"The Ideal Travel Book"
It makes no sense of writing about Odissey - probably one of the most thoroughly analyzed books (I must recommend Pietro Citati's wonderful book on Odissey) - but I think it is very important to say something about the audiobook experience of it.
As an admirer of Susan Sarandon's "persona", I was first drawn to buying the title for her endorsement of this project. I must say that, in the beginning, I was a little disappointed to realize that her role is limited to the reading of introductory sinopsis of each chapter and that the bulk of Homer's actual text is narrated by Stanley Lombardo. But, gradually, I became more and more dazzled by Mr. Lombardo's breathtaking enactment of Odisseus great journey. The weight and scope of the great speeches of the book is totally matched by the narrator, introducing subtle intonations to each character but never loosing the "real feel" of the meaning of what's being said to the one who is saying it. The voice of Odysseus resounds in my head while I'm writing this review...
As for the translation, though english is not my native language, I compared with other translations in other languages and this is second to none.
I've listen to the book while traveling to work by bus, and I must say it was a great experience. The audiobook really brings out the adventurous character of the story and it is really great to hear the first "roadbook" ever written while on the road.
I may be wrong about this but this seems to me more like an abridged retelling than an unabridged translation of the Odyssey, despite what the subtitles says. Certainly, the words spoken in this audible book does not conform to the 'Speak, Memory – Of the cunning hero...' translation you would expect when told that it is the Lombardo translation.
I suppose the performance itself is very good if you don't mind what translation/ retelling version of the Odyssey to listen to, but really I was looking for an audible book that speaks the Lombardo translation.
Report Inappropriate Content