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dougnlis has commented on (3) products.

The Odyssey by Homer and Robert Fagles
The Odyssey

dougnlis, December 8, 2009

waitingtoleave compares various translations, and I can't comment on Greek words or metrical sense. I can say that Fagles propels his story along swiftly and entices the reader into his form of metrical rendering of the text.

The Odyssey is an intensely modern work in its structure. Presenting it as a collection of short stories or isolated events has insulted the genius of its story telling. A few lines after the beginning, rendered by Fagles as "Sing to me of the man, Muse," comes the odd direction, "launch out where you will - sing for our time too." In ancient times that may have allowed an oral presenter to take up the story at any point, but hints that the story doesn't have to unwind chronologically so long as the beginning and end are included. So the story twists and turns.

The Odyssey is told with a cinematic sense of scene cuts and flashbacks and questionably reliable narrators. Fagles makes of this epic a book that lets readers plow through as with a modern novel, allowing the metric arrangement of lines the text to provide a sense of antiquity while translating a sense of the original text so it sings for our time too.

"Translator's Postscript" and "Notes on the Translation" satisfied my need for detail on how other times might have taken in The Odyssey for their own times.

I bow to waitingtoleave for his ability to compare translations. I embrace this Fagles translation as utterly fulfilling for me reading in my time. Knowing the Odyssey only through renderings of isolated bits and pieces (tricking the Cyclops, threading Scylla and Charybdis, etc., etc.) might meet the command to "launch where you will," but fails to tell anything like the tale of the man of twists and turns that Fagles presents, and doesn't hint at the other plot threads following the wife and son of Odysseus that twine together to make the complete tale.
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Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 by Fred Anderson
Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766

dougnlis, October 6, 2009

It's size is intimidating, but this is history that rocks. It's about war, after all, with marauding savages and George Washington and King George. It's known as the French and Indian War over here, and this is the first book I've read that gave full scope to the Indian aspect of the equation. Native tribes, particularly the Iroquois Confederacy but including many other trans-Appalachian peoples are shown to have been more than hirlings or pawns of Europeans. They had their own agendas, primarily containing the spread of whites past the eastern seaboard, their own internal tensions, and a culture of war that was as disturbing to their allies as their enemies. And then there were the English colonists who were evolving in different directions from their home nation. Anderson takes in the global scale of the war, keeps track of the four powers engaged in America - French, Indian, British, American - and draws it all together in the 1760s when currents toward independence came to be felt. Those currents of attitude and thought are arising in this earlier war and its aftermath. Highly recommended.
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Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-45 by Alan Clark
Barbarossa: The Russian-German Conflict, 1941-45

dougnlis, October 5, 2009

A middling rating goes to this tome of nearly 500 pages simply because time has marched on since its writing in 1965. Clark has produced a heavily German-centric history of the crucial theater of WWII simply because sources for other side of the story were not available during the Cold War. So he had lots of Nazi documents and several of the principle actors themselves to draw upon, but the Soviet side of the conflict could only be guessed at or deduced from actions. Clark's assessment of the balance in leadership between Hitler and his Field Marshalls is persuasive, his characterizations of the German leadership are sharp, and his writing moves along briskly. But we are left knowing virtually nothing about the Soviet generals beyond broad labels of competence and sycophantic incompetence.
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