Author: Adam Nicolson
How many times have we read tomes on Homer, The Iliad, and The Odyssey?
THIS BOOK IS NOT THAT!
For those readers who enjoy a ferocity of language, a transcendence of personal experience, and a life full of the joys, sorrows and tribulations of the human spirit, I say consume this book, as it is an experience rather than a translation or a didactic exercise. Nicolson produces an exhilarating, splendiferous novel as he proceeds to follow Homer and his legions as we follow our own lives. Homer matters for Nicolson because we matter. And as Nicolson imbues Why Homer Matters with his own quests, they are realized in ours.
As Nicolson prepares his sail and faces leeward and windward, his conversations with wind, power, ancient history and Homer’s vital rules of life entwine us into his vision. Every wave serves its purpose, every struggle, whether with Calypso or the Sirens or Hades, the landscape slips us into our own lives. This is a personal, dedicated and brilliant lapse into what I consider a Biblical moment: as Nicolson’s poignant histories expand and explode into prose that serves a single purpose, man’s journey is captured and passioned into The Iliad and The Odyssey. Ok, readers, enough of that. Here is Nicolson. Capture him yourself!
“In The Iliad, when Odysseus and Ajax go to Achilles in book 9 to urge him to rejoin the fight against the Trojans, they walk there by a seashore that is roaring with the violence and scale of Poseidon’s terror.
The way they take is along the strand of the deep sea,
Where the battle lines of breakers crash and drag,
Uttering many prayers to the holder and shaker of earth
That they might persuade the proud heart of great Achilles.
It is also the place of grief, where later in the Iliad, in the restlessness of his despair over the death of his beloved friend Patroclus and when sleep will not come, Achilles goes into the night:
To wander in anguish, aimless along the surge,
Where one morning after another,
Flaming over the sea and shore, dawn would find him pacing there.
As so often in Homer, the single moment encapsulates the enormous story. Man and landscape interfuse. The dawn-lit Achilles in the agony of sorrow wanders by the aimless surf; no place for Homer is more filled with tragedy than the beach. It is on the beach that Achilles builds the great funeral pyre for Patroclus, the man he loved; now dead, as Achilles will soon be. “
As Nicolson sets his sails following Homer, this novel traipses into his own personal experiences and “the poems, which ask the eternal questions about the individual and community, honor and service, love and war, and tell us how we became who we are.” A natural poet, an alluring theist, a lover of history and its relevance to the present, Nicolson demands an audience, not out of audacity, but out of love and reverence. This is the best book I have read that offers Weltanschauung versus a translation.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own
Why Homer Matters is available on Amazon.com as well as booksellers nationwide.