Most translations of The Odyssey are in the kind of standard verse form believed typical of high-serious composition in the ancient world. Yet some scholars believe the epic was originally composed in a less formal, phrase-by-phrase prosody. Charles Stein employs the latter approach in this dramatic, and in some ways truer, version. Famous episodes such as the sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, and the Cyclops, are rendered with previously unseen energy and empathy. The poem’s second half—where Odysseus, returned home to take revenge on his wife’s suitors—has extraordinarily subtle, “novelistic” features that are made more transparent in this version. There is also a special feel for the archaic dimensions of Homer—the world of gods and their complex relations to Fate and Being that other translators tend to deemphasize in order to make the poem feel “modern.” Most versions exclude or minimize the magical aspects of the poem, but Stein gives these elements full play, so that the spirit of a universe predating the classical era shines through. This vibrant version of The Odyssey shows readers not only what the Greeks thought about their gods but the gods themselves. Summaries preceding each chapter and a list of recommended websites help expand the experience.
About the Author
Homer is celebrated as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.
Charles Stein is the author of ten books of poetry including THE HAT RACK TREE: SELECTED POEMS FROM THEFORESTFORTHETREES, 1980-1983 (Station Hill Press of Barrytown, 1994), Parts and Other Parts (1982), HORSE SACRIFICE (Station Hill Press of Barrytown, 1980), and Poems and Glyphs (1973). Robert Kelly has called Stein, " a poet with all the means of his craft at hand one of the smartest men of his generation, and one of its most exemplary poets." Stein also is the author of the critical study The Secret of The Black Chrysanthemum (Station Hill Press of Barrytown, 1987), a critical study of Charles Olson's poetry and prose, and the editor of Being = Space x Action: Searches for Freedom of Mind in Mathematics, Art and Mysticism (1998).