(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)
First of all, this is a beautiful recording and translation of the Odyssey. For those, wishing to attempt Homer's epics, I highly suggest you start with the excellent Fagles rendering of the Iliad, also available here on audible and free of the quality problems that plague this file.
What mars this book has nothing to do with the narration or translation, but with the quality of the audio file itself. There is an earlier review here that states that the speed of the recording has been slowed down in one of the chapters. It even sounds like a different narrator. Some files sound pristine and clear, every OTHER file sounds like they recorded it through a closet wall. I found myself adjusting the treble on my speakers constantly.
I contacted Audible, and although they did respond; they wanted specific. All they have to do is to have an actual listener sit down and listen to these files on bigger sound system than that of a laptop or e-reader. I have yet to see a resolution.
Both Robert Fagles translation and Ian McKellen's reading are superb. However, at about five hours in, the recording began to exhibit technical glitches related to speed. I re-downloaded the audiobook, but to no avail. No matter how good McKellen is, listening to someone's voice slowed down or sped up is too annoying, especially for a work that already demands so much attention.
His voice is like honey and thunder and velvet all rolled into one.....studied Homer at school....would have been so much better with Sir Ian reading it to me
The translation is not overly wordy but still very eloquent. The narrarator is an absolutely perfect fit! This is the only book I've listen to the literraly had me yelling out with glee on more then one occasion!
WARNING - YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO STOP LISTENING TO THIS!
The translation is wonderful, and the narration absolutely superb. I cannot imagine a better way to approach this 'classic' of classical literature.
Fagles' is an excellent translation, and the reader is outstanding. One of the best contemporary translations. However, despite the "unabridged" label, this version appears to be subtly edited or cut down.
I am a college student and not used to this type of literature. when our teacher assigned this reading, I was overwhelmed because the reading seemed hard to understand and lots of work, but when I read the book with audible, it was fun experience and made my reading easy to read and understand; in fact, I ended up enjoying my book and looking forward for more.
I don't know who I am.
This audiobook is absolutely fantastic, and Ian McKellen's narration is first rate (for those of you who don't know who is is, he played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movies). It is by far the best audio adaption of a classical text that I have ever heard. Buy it. Seriously
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.
The 4 star rating in this case is only for the 2005 Penguin Audio audiobook edition of Robert Fagles' 1996 translation of Homer's The Odyssey. This is not a reflection on Fagles' translation or Ian McKellen's narration which are both 5 stars. The lower rating is only due to a few chapter/verse timing issues and the occasional distraction due to the ambience of different recording sessions combined into one audiobook. The recording is from the pre-digital download era and the audio chapters are based on approximate 30 minute timings (1 side of a cassette tape?), regardless of the actual Homeric verses. So the 24 Chapter starts are only occasionally equal to the beginnings of the 24 Verses of the Odyssey. This may or may not be a distraction for some. It is probably not a major issue if you are following along with a print edition.
One segment, Chapters 9 to 12 in the audiobook, middle of Verse 10 to the end of Verse 12 in Homer, has a significant audio issue. The speed of McKellen's reading drops to a deep bass voice at a seemingly slowed down audiospeed, as if the tape slowed down or McKellen was suffering from a serious cold on the day of the recording. This is enormously distracting when compared to the sound of the voice before and after this segment. Again, this is not a deal breaker but listeners should at least be forewarned of this fault.
The audiobook also excludes Bernard Knox's introduction that is available in the Penguin print edition.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.