Chapman's Homer by Homer
The Odyssey

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Synopsis

George Chapman's translations of Homer are among the most famous in the English language. Keats immortalized the work of the Renaissance dramatist and poet in the sonnet "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." Swinburne praised the translations for their "romantic and sometimes barbaric grandeur," their "freshness, strength, and inextinguishable fire." The great critic George Saintsbury (1845-1933) wrote: "For more than two centuries they were the resort of all who, unable to read Greek, wished to know what Greek was. Chapman is far nearer Homer than any modern translator in any modern language." This volume presents the original text of Chapman's translation of the Odyssey (1614-15), making only a small number of modifications to punctuation and wording where they might confuse the modern reader. The editor, Allardyce Nicoll, provides an introduction, textual notes, a glossary, and a commentary. Garry Wills's preface to the Odyssey explores how Chapman's less strained meter lets him achieve more delicate poetic effects as compared to the Iliad. Wills also examines Chapman's "fine touch" in translating "the warm and human sense of comedy" in the Odyssey.

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold.

--John Keats

 

About Homer

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Homer is the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the two greatest Greek epic poems. Nothing is known about Homer personally; it is not even known for certain whether there is only one true author of these two works. Homer is thought to have been an Ionian from the 9th or 8th century B.C. While historians argue over the man, his impact on literature, history, and philosophy is so significant as to be almost immeasurable. The Iliad relates the tale of the Trojan War, about the war between Greece and Troy, brought about by the kidnapping of the beautiful Greek princess, Helen, by Paris. It tells of the exploits of such legendary figures as Achilles, Ajax, and Odysseus. The Odyssey recounts the subsequent return of the Greek hero Odysseus after the defeat of the Trojans. On his return trip, Odysseus braves such terrors as the Cyclops, a one-eyed monster; the Sirens, beautiful temptresses; and Scylla and Charybdis, a deadly rock and whirlpool. Waiting for him at home is his wife who has remained faithful during his years in the war. Both the Iliad and the Odyssey have had numerous adaptations, including several film versions of each.
 
Published December 1, 1957 by Routledge & Kegan Paul PLC. 1432 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chapman's Homer

Publishers Weekly

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Immortalized by John Keats in his poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, two nearly 400-year-old masterpieces of canonical translation Chapman's versions of The Iliad (re-published in 1998) a

Nov 27 2000 | Read Full Review of Chapman's Homer: The Odyssey

Publishers Weekly

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Immortalized by John Keats in his poem ""On First Looking into Chapman's Homer,"" two nearly 400-year-old masterpieces of canonical translation Chapman's versions of The Iliad (re-published in 1998) and The Odyssey (coming this month) are now both available in U.S. editions for the first time sin...

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London Review of Books

(Thomas Phaer had made similar boasts about his speed as a translator of Virgil in the 1550s.) These features make Chapman’s Homer a work to live with: the translator tells you which books he has on his desk and where he thinks they are wrong.

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