Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

A Biography (A Book that Shook the World)

Alberto Manguel

RRP: £8.99

1 June 2008

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843544036

The stories of the Trojan war and Helen of Troy, Patroclus and Achilles, the Sirens and the Cyclops are embedded in western culture, yet readers often fail to recognise that they were made famous by two epic poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and one blind poet: Homer.

Alberto Manguel begins his book with the poems’ inception in ancient Greece and demonstrates how these poems have reverberated subsequently through the western canon, from the Rome of Virgil and Horace to Joyce’s Dublin and Derek Walcott’s Caribbean, via Dante and Racine. In this lyrical and graceful short volume, Manguel delights in the original poems and celebrates their presence throughout history.


A dizzying and hugely enjoyable tour of the Homeric project... from Virgil's remaking of the Iliad and the Odyssey into the Roman national epic, to scholars in medieval Baghdad who could recite Homer word for word from memory, and to the dramatic retelling of the Iliad by Alessandro Baricco... A hugely stimulating read.Mary Beard
The Times

Nothing less than a history of literature itself... An ambitious project - but one for which the author is perfectly qualified. This is recognisably the work of a compulsive translator and anthologiser: for like a literary bloodhound, Manguel has only to pick up the scent of a theme, and he is off pursuing it through a dizzy variety of languages and genres... Brilliant.Tom Holland