cover image The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic

The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic

Simon Armitage, Author . Norton $14.95 (266p) ISBN 978-0-393-

One of Britain's most successful poets, the versatile and clever Armitage follows up his translation of the medieval poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” with this engaging and compulsively readable adaptation of Homer's epic, in which the wily sailor-hero Odysseus must outplay, outwit or outlast seductive nymphs, a malevolent enchantress, a one-eyed giant, and his own impious crew in order to reach his home island, his son and his faithful wife. Written for BBC radio, Armitage's version is not a translation of the ancient Greek epic, but rather a dramatic rendering, divided into scenes with parts (mostly in verse) for voice actors. Armitage delivers fast paced and decidedly contemporary language: Odysseus himself envisions “A freak wave cracking the keel of some poor sailing ship.... Just the Gods doing their thing.” The transformation of a tale about one man into exchanges among sets of characters can make things seem choppy early on, but it pays off when Odysseus reaches home and has to maintain his disguise until he can slaughter his wife's suitors. Armitage's play will entertain, if not enlighten, anyone interested in the fresh ways that Homer's story can be told. (Apr.)