From Stephen Mitchell, the renowned translator whose Iliad was named one of The New Yorker’s Favorite Books of 2011, comes a vivid new translation of the Odyssey, complete with textual notes and an illuminating introductory essay.
The hardcover publication of the Odyssey received glowing reviews: The New York Times praised “Mitchell’s fresh, elegant diction and the care he lavishes on meter, [which] brought me closer to the transfigurative experience Keats describes on reading Chapman’s Homer”; Booklist,in a starred review, said that “Mitchell retells the first, still greatest adventure story in Western literature with clarity, sweep, and force”; and John Banville, author of The Sea,called this translation “a masterpiece.”
The Odyssey is the original hero’s journey, an epic voyage into the unknown, and has inspired other creative work for millennia. With its consummately modern hero, full of guile and wit, always prepared to reinvent himself in order to realize his heart’s desire—to return to his home and family after ten years of war—the Odyssey now speaks to us again across 2,600 years.
In words of great poetic power, this translation brings Odysseus and his adventures to life as never before. Stephen Mitchell’s language keeps the diction close to spoken English, yet its rhythms recreate the oceanic surge of the ancient Greek. Full of imagination and light, beauty and humor, this Odyssey carries you along in a fast stream of action and imagery. Just as Mitchell “re-energised the Iliad for a new generation” (The Sunday Telegraph), his Odyssey is the noblest, clearest, and most captivating rendition of one of the defining masterpieces of Western literature.
“Stephen Mitchell’s faithful translation of the Odyssey has great vigor, and a plain eloquence that is quite free of pedantry. It does not plod. Its narrative drive is so compelling that the reader will find himself speaking the lines aloud, as I did.”
– Richard Wilbur, former Poet Laureate of the United States and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
“Stephen Mitchell is one of the great translators, and his version of the Odyssey is a masterpiece of clarity, directness and a kind of blunt musicality which catches perfectly the pitch of the true Homeric voice.”
– John Banville, author of The Sea
“This latest incarnation of the Odyssey leaves no doubt that Stephen Mitchell has made a deep connection to the tale’s spiritual power, which he has managed to express with propulsive cadence and in exquisite detail. The bard sings again, this time at the banquet of Mitchell’s ardent labor.”
– Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States
“Yet again, one of today’s gifted, knowing scholars and writers embraces one of the masterpieces of yore, and so doing offers us the Odyssey as a wise and stirring companion for our own personal voyage through time and life’s many stirring, worrying, enabling moments.”
– Robert Coles
A daring new version of the epic poem.
– Wall Street Journal
"Employing the five-beat, minimally iambic line he used for his translation of The Iliad (2011), Mitchell retells the first, still greatest adventure story in Western literature with the same clarity, sweep, and force.There are many more violent deaths in The Iliad—there’s a war going on, after all—but nothing as ghoulishly terrifying (and starkly related by Mitchell) as what Polyphemus, the Laestrygonians, and Scylla do to Odysseus’ crew. Stephen King, eat your heart out."
– Booklist, starred review
"Re-reading the epic poem The Odyssey with this new translation by Stephen Mitchell is a reminder not only of its significance as an early literary masterpiece of the West but also its beauty as a work of art... It resonates with modern readers as much as it did to our ancestors... Eminently readable, flowing narrative… captures the beauty of the language while rendering the poem accessible to all readers... Mitchell deserves great credit for providing a new translation that will appeal to modern readers and see the Homeric tales thrive amongst the next generation... Mitchell’s translations should be the first port of call to anyone who’s never yet read the Homeric poems but has always meant to."