(P) and ©1996 Penguin Books USA Inc.
"To re-create a world where everything is living...is very nearly as difficult as to create it. Fagles does this with triumphant assurance; every arrowhead flashes lightning, every bush burns; Homer is with us." (James Dickey)
No-one can beat Sir Ian at this kind of thing. He's probably one of the greatest performers of classical text. He doesn't just recite the verse, he speaks it. He speaks every sentence with immaculately chosen intonations that communicate meaning and emotion perfectly. I can't imagine a better reader to bring out the depth and magic of Homer.
Audiophile since the days I had to check 'em out on rickety cassette tapes at the local library. Currently working the other side of production as an author of romance and scifi/fantasy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this book has been sold to us all wrong. Show of hands: who among you has heard mention of either The Iliad or The Odyssey and rolled your eyes over yet another "classic" work of fiction forced on unsuspecting high school students meant to bore us into submission? Dudes, this is seriously one of the most exciting books I've ever read. It's practically a ... Um, who's the current go-to action hero actor? Anyways, this is the movie he would star in. It's like if you took Quentin Tarantino to ancient Greece, told him to find inspiration, then let him go gonzo on the script without limits.
What's weird is that I thought I hadn't read this, somehow escaping it through my academic career. What I realized later was that I had read parts of it in my "Gender in the Classical World" honors lit class my freshman year of college. (I remembered only when I came on the tale of Circe. I remember having a quiz on this and failing horribly, because I didn't understand the context, but let's not go into a discussion of how poorly my high school prepared its students for the world of higher education.) Even then, I didn't enjoy the book, because the focus was on analyzing. No fault on the instructor; that's appropriate for a college course. But seriously, I feel like I missed out on taking in a landscape painting by a master, because someone blotted out all the canvas excepting a single blade of grass.
I have to admit, there were a few points that made me cringe as a modern reader, but one has to remind themselves that Homer reflected the values and morals of his time, not mine. Still, it was hard to stomach that Penelope is exalted for her commitment to Odysseus, remaining true to him for twenty years. Meantime Odysseus while trying to get home to her has no qualms about being sexed up by whatever goddess or nymph takes a fancy to him, and that's considered okay. Different times, different expectations...
You know why Homer has been passed down and survived through the centuries? Not because he gives us a picture into an ancient culture, religion, and history. Not because of its consequential anthropological richness. Not even because of its lyric quality for those who can read it in its original tongue. (ee cummings proved that language could be beautiful for beauty's sake without being purposeful.) It's because it's one hell of a story, and takes you on one-- actually numerous thrilling, epic adventures.
AUDIOBOOK notes: Ian McKellen's rendition was superior. However, I can't give the audiobook performance in whole 5 stars due to production value. This seriously needs to be remastered. It was obviously adopted for digital format from a copy of the tape production. Numerous times between chapters there was a huge change in the audio quality (getting softer, slowing down, sounding warped, etc.) There were even a few parts where there were "hiccups" in the flow, ie where a few words blotted out.
Great voice. Very pleasant to listen to.
Great translation, Great narrator..why not hire an engineer who knows what he is doing?
It is wonderful until about chapter 13, then it goes completely off the rails.
Don't waste your time or money on this one.
The narration is excellent, as is the translation; however, the production is terrible. The first thing I noticed is that in many places the recording skips or hiccups. This is absolutely unacceptable. As others have stated, if an actual human had checked this recording before it was offered for sale then these glitches would have been caught and hopefully corrected. As others have stated, the pitch also varies in places which is a shame because the narration is superb.
Hey Audible - ummm Amazon - I know you don't care but we pay for these recordings with real money. This is the age of options and you might find that your customers have gone elsewhere because you stopped caring. Maybe that's why, after being an Audible member since 2006, I canceled my membership.
You can do better, Amazon!
I am an avid member of Audible because I want books, professional readers and professional recordings…this recording id terrible. A bad listen.
Just echoing the other reviews here. We all know the story is a classic, but McKellen's reading is just fascinating. No one would have trouble enjoying the classics if they were all presented like this one.
it is better then any of the translations i have tried to read. One thing Robert Fagles got right is that he made it sound poetical. The Odyssey was written as poetry, and so this sounded.
it was easy to listen to and follow the story.
i will be looking for more of Fagles translations of the classics
Sadly, I do not understand Greek so I must settle for the next best thing: this gloriously musical translation spoken by THE master of English diction. Absolutely enthralling. Gorgeous. Only Homer himself could have done it better.
Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.
Ian McKellen's talent as a narrator is astounding. His cadence and inflections are sublime. The only complaint I have is the 3 seconds of electronic organ noise separating the books. This is one of the few books that I could listen to over and over.
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