*The Odyssey by Homer (Fitzgerald translation)

I’ll never forget when I was in high school and nearly every time I wanted to go out, my mom would tell me that going to a movie or to a football game or to a friend’s house was a waste of time and what I should really do is stay home and read The Odyssey.  No better way to turn a teenager off than that.  I don’t remember when I actually read it for the first time, but now that I teach 9th grade, I’ve read it several times, and now that Christopher is going into 9th grade, I wanted him to read it before school started.  I tried a different approach: I gave him a great audio translation of it (Odds Bodkin) which gave him the whole story in a myriad of cool voices.  It was spooky, scary, sexy, and exciting.  After that, I gave him the Fitzgerald translation and picked out a number of books for him to read–definitely not all of it, but maybe a third or a half.  I read it at the same time, and we talked about Odysseus’s courage, his manliness, and his wit, as well as Homer’s use of poetic devices and concrete imagery.  So easy to see those men hanging out of the cyclops’s mouth as he crunches his teeth around them or to hear the Sirens singing, trying desperately to lure Odysseus toward them as he struggles with his ropes and tells his men to stuff more wax in their ears.  I’ve been reading the Fitzgerald translation for a long time, but I was recently told to try the Fagels translation, so I think I’ll take a gander at that next read through. (fiction)

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