Poor Cyclops

David Quint

  • The Return of Ulysses: A Cultural History of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ by Edith Hall
    Tauris, 296 pp, £20.00, March 2009, ISBN 978 1 84511 575 3
  • Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ by Lillian Doherty
    Oxford, 450 pp, £80.00, January 2009, ISBN 978 0 19 923332 8
  • The Unknown Odysseus: Alternate Worlds in Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ by Thomas Van Nortwick
    Michigan, 144 pp, $50.00, December 2008, ISBN 978 0 472 11673 7

In The Return of Ulysses Edith Hall takes us on a tour of global culture high and low, mostly from the last hundred years, to demonstrate how Homer’s great poem continues to permeate our sensibility and imagination. She is an informative and enthusiastic guide, and the sheer wealth of her examples is impressive. But the tour rarely stops at any given poem, novel, film, play, painting, opera or ballet for longer than two paragraphs, and readers can be forgiven for feeling a bit disoriented as they travel to the chapter’s next destination. Hall gives just one page to Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, where W.B. Stanford, in The Ulysses Theme (1954), which Hall cites on her first page, gave it a whole chapter.

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