Books

Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

A Biography

by Alberto Manguel

“Manguel is not only a gentleman and a scholar but a gentleman as a scholar, offering constellations of connected readings and insights with grace, humor, and tact.” –The New Yorker

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 304
  • Publication Date March 17, 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4382-2
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $13.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 304
  • Publication Date January 22, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8711-3976-4
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $19.95

About The Book

While it is unknown if there ever was a man named Homer, there is no doubt that the epic poems assembled under his name form the cornerstone of Western literature, feeding our imagination for over two and a half millennia. The Iliad and The Odyssey, with their incomparable tales of the Trojan War, brave Achilles, Ulysses and Penelope, the Sirens, the Cyclops, the beautiful Helen of Troy, and the petulant gods, are familiar to most readers because they are so pervasive.

From Plato to Virgil, Pope to Joyce, the poems have been told and retold, interpreted and embellished. As Manguel writes, “In a very real sense, The Iliad and The Odyssey are familiar to us prior to opening the first page.” In this graceful and sweeping book, Alberto Manguel traces the lineage of the poems from their inception and first recording. He considers the original purpose of the poems–either as allegory of philosophical truth or as a record of historical truth–surveys the challenges the pagan Homer presented to the early Christian world, and how this “primordial spring without which there would have been no culture” spread after the Reformation. Manguel follows Homer through the greatest literature ever created and, above all, delights in the poems themselves.

Praise

“Manguel is not only a gentleman and a scholar but a gentleman as a scholar, offering constellations of connected readings and insights with grace, humor, and tact.” –The New Yorker

“Dazzling. Manguel, who has read everything, will tell you wehere to find traces of the original–the Helen, the Cyclops, the Circe, the horse–in Icelandic sagas, fourteenth century danse macabre Fellini’s 8 “, Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, ” and Jack and the Beanstalk.” He devotes chapters to Homer as poetry, history, symbol, everyman, in translation and in Islam. And he himself writes like a dream of antiquity.” John Leonard, Harper’s

“[Maguel] brings his passion for books and his fluency as a writer to this engaging study. Highly recommended for general readers.” T.L. Cooksey, Library Journal

“It is almost startling . . . to discover a writer who believes in literature so thoroughly.” –The Times Literary Supplement

“Nothing less than a history of literature itself.” –Tom Holland, The Spectator (UK)

“A hugely stimulating read.” –Mary Beard, The Times (London)

“The latest superb addition to the Book that Changed the World Series is something new and exciting from Alberto Manguel. . . . Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey offers readers a brief but thoroughly fascinating history of the enigmatic Greek poet and the two canonical works that have endured for more than two and a half thousand years as the foundation of Western culture.” Tim Davis, BookLoons.com

“Alberto Manguel is to reading what Casanova was to sex.” –Scotland on Sunday

“Brief but rich history of a mysterious bard and two wondrous works that serve as foundation for Western culture.” –Kirkus Reviews

“[A] spending series.” –Bill Ward, Minneapolis Star-Tribune