Book Reviews

Review: The Odyssey by Homer (E.V. Rieu, D.C.H Rieu – Translation)

the odyssey

Continuing my look back at old reviews.  The second Classic novel I reviewed was ‘The Odyssey’ by Homer.  Again this review was written before I developed my ‘style’ of reviewing which I hope you all enjoy with my newer reviews these days :).  This review is for the Penguin Classics version which has The Odyssey written as a story rather than a poem.  Mixed reasons as to which version is better but here is my review – and bear in mind I lacked confidence in reading classics and reviewing books when I wrote this and the first line should make you laugh:

I’ll be honest, my first experience of the basic story or the odyssey was watching ‘Homer’s Odyssey’ on The Simpsons! But having seen a glimpse of the idea of the story when I was younger I vowed to one day read the real version. I’m glad I did and this penguin version in my opinion is the best way to get to understand the story whether you are into literature or not.

The odyssey is a poem and many translators have done excellent jobs of translating the text into English while keeping it a poem. However translating into a poem can not only sometimes lose some of the real story but can also alienate those who would like to know the story but can’t deal with an epic poem. This is why this book is so great! The penguin version has been translated into a story, like reading a novel. This makes it incredibly easy to understand the plot and draws you so much more into the story.

The language used is also very easy to read and understand. Being a penguin book just like with wordsworth classics these books have little notes, whenever there’s something that might not be understood by someone reading it they have added a helpful note, this makes reading it even easier. And when you are done with the story itself there is even to read at, where experts have added information (like the stuff you’d read if you were studying at school).

The story itself is very interesting, I won’t give anything away and other reviewers have certainly added a lot about this but I will say that if you want to find out about this classic but aren’t into the poetry aspect then this penguin version is definitely for you. I’d also recommend The Illiad, written in the same format but set earlier, that book is every bit as readable as this one. The only hiccup in the story of the odyssey for me was right at the end. The ending seemed a bit off (the notes explain why) but I did feel a little dissatisfied by the ending, but that’s just my personal opinion and doesn’t change how great this book is.

Rating: 4.5/5

Book Description:

The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of everyman’s journey through life.

“It recounts the story of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca from the Trojan war and tells how, championed by Athene and hounded by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, Odysseus encounters the ferocious Cyclops, escapes Scylla and Charybdis and yields temporarily to the lures of Circe and Calypso before he overcomes the trials awaiting him on Ithaca. Only then is he reunited with his faithful wife Penelope, his wanderings at an end.”


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