Friday, 19 November 2010

Book Review: The Odyssey [Audio]

Odyssey The Odyssey by Homer

Translated by Robert Fagles

Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen

Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks

Category: Classic

Challenges: Really Old Classics, World Religion Challenge

Synopsis: The Odyssey tells of Odysseus journey back from Troy. Odysseus manages to anger Poseidon and therefore his journey home takes 10 years. While he is away his house becomes filled with suitors who want to marry his wife Penelope.

My Thoughts: When sign-ups for Really Old Classics went up I knew I wanted to read one of the Greeks but to tell you the truth, they scare me just a bit. Because of this I was really glad when I saw The Odyssey narrated by Sir Ian McKellen in the Audible list. I figured it was perfect, the Greek epics were made to be told. Here I would get the experience the way Homer had meant it, read the book and not be quite so scared by it.

I knew the story before I listened to it, but this was the first time I listened to it because I wanted to and I think this made me approach it in a slightly different way. I treated it more as entertainment and not as a school assignment.

I have to admit the first time I came across one of the many repetitive phrases that are in the epic I thought my ipod had done something wonky. And then I remembered that the reusing of phrases is to help both the teller of the tale and the audience. But it did jar me that first time, and I have to admit the next few times as well. I think this is because I am not used to this particular stylistic device. Sure modern authors use repetitive phrases to remind their readers but not quite in the same way. After awhile I got used to it though and I did come to really appreciate it. It helped me keep people separate.

I will admit that the story reminded me of daytime soaps to some extent. All the intrigue and disguising, it just really brought to mind those soaps. I suppose this goes to show that we today find the same things intriguing as people did way back when Smile .

The mythology in it was very interesting as I am currently reading Om Gud (About God) by Jonas Gardell which is about the Old Testament and it talks about different views of God. Contrasting this with the Greek mythology posed some great insights into the way people viewed the world at the time. The close relationship between Gods and people and the way Gods became directly involved with their subjects. This is a way of viewing the world that I find fascinating.

The translation by Robert Fagles was really well done I think. I obviously can’t compare it to the original but the language felt quite authentic. Just the right mixture between “older” words such as libations but so that you could understand.

Sir Ian McKellen does a really good job with the narration. It is clear but with life in it. You can definitely tell that he is an old school stage actor. There is a certain amount of presence in the voice. He also does not give in to the stupid accents that some narrators give the different characters. The only issue I have with the audio production is actually the music at the start of each new chapter, it is REALLY grating. I actually liked having the music but just not the music itself. The reason I liked the music was that it gave me a chance to pause at a good point in the story.

Overall the story was quite exciting and the translation and narration were really good. I recommend this particular production.

Purchase The Odyssey from BookDepository

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Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

4 comments:

Shelley said...

For the most part I like the repetitive bits, but there were a couple of times that I thought I lost my spot and was rereading something!
I'm not a huge fan of music in audiobooks, but the fact that McKellan reads this would help me to overlook it!

Amanda said...

A lot of people seem to be listening to this on audio. I think I should probably revisit it one day that way. I might like it better then.

irisonbooks said...

I like the idea of listening to this on audio. I have been far too intimidated to read this, so maybe audio will really help :)

Jenny said...

I almost never listen to books on audio, but I would make an exception for Fagles's translation read by Ian McKellan. That sounds amazing. I've put it on my PaperbackSwap wish list but do not hold out much hope of receiving it.