Sunday, April 23, 2006

Let's not kid ourselves

Philip Pullman has a piece on ancient epics and why they are so nifty. I've always had a tough time with these. A big problem is translation. So many translations are decades old and just seem stilted. Robert Fagles's somewhat modernized translation of the Odyssey worked for me, I really liked that one. Too often though I find my mind rapidly wandering. Pullman mentions Gilgamesh which has a new translation. PW says that "reading it can make people in the here and now feel more completely alive." That's a pretty big deal. Not many books make me feel more alive. There are the books that make me want to be nicer, but more alive? Not all that often.

Let's be honest though. If I want to read something epic, I am going to get a fantasy novel, not a 3,000 year old poem. I'd be curious as to how many non-student or academically associated people are reading this. But that is just the insecure side of me talking.

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