Monday, December 22, 2014

{Review} WHY HOMER MATTERS by Adam Nicolson

ISBN #: 978-1627791793
Page Count: 320
Copyright: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

Adam Nicolson sees the Iliad and the Odyssey as the foundation myths of Greek—and our—consciousness, collapsing the passage of 4,000 years and making the distant past of the Mediterranean world as immediate to us as the events of our own time.

Why Homer Matters is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by the poems themselves and their metaphors of life and trouble. Homer’s poems occupy, as Adam Nicolson writes “a third space” in the way we relate to the past: not as memory, which lasts no more than three generations, nor as the objective accounts of history, but as epic, invented after memory but before history, poetry which aims “to bind the wounds that time inflicts.”

The Homeric poems are among the oldest stories we have, drawing on deep roots in the Eurasian steppes beyond the Black Sea​, but emerging at a time around 2000 B.C. when the people who would become the Greeks came south and both clashed and fused with the more sophisticated inhabitants of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The poems, which ask the eternal questions about the individual and the community, honor and service, love and war, tell us how we became who we are.

Mandy's Review:

As it was with most of you, I was introduced to Homer during my scholastic years (more specifically: 8th grade). While we discussed the roles of the Greek gods and goddesses and what some underlying meanings may be, we never really considered the idea of the Iliad or the Odyssey representing life now. We never considered how old Homer really is or how his stories tie into the culture of his time.

But who is Homer? Is it one man or multiple men? Was he a short, blind man living out his days by the sea or is he himself a myth created to represent the most well-known epic poems of all time?

Adam Nicolson really delves into the past to try and uncover the above answers plus some. It almost seems that each century archaeologists uncover relics that reference Homer in some way. But, just when they think Homer's time period can be pinned down, something else is found that makes historians realize Homer is actually older than what was initially thought.

Why Homer Matters is a thoroughly researched, intelligently written novel. If looked for hard enough, we could all find a writer whose works speak to our life. I enjoyed Homer's epic poetry, but he doesn't "speak" to me as he does to Adam. If you enjoy historical research that relates to an infamous writer and how that writer's work affects history through the ages, then you'd enjoy reading Why Homer Matters.

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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