08 June 2015

Review of Barry B. Powell's Translation of Homer's Odyssey

There is one place in book eight that was confusing. Odysseus gives Demodokos a prime cut of meat, but the herald hands him a lyre. The other translations have the word gift, not sure how Powell got lyre there, but it is obviously supposed to be that gift of meat from Odysseus.

I'm a little put off by the typos and grammar gaffs in both the translations of this and The Iliad. And the indicators of nonexistent footnotes.

Since, overall, this is an excellent translation, I was able to overlook these picayune matters. I don't think I will actually purchase this or The Iliad until later editions when I'm hopeful the typos, etc., will be fixed. I don't buy the excuse that editors are busy. They can afford to hire proofreaders. And, how did all the early reviewers miss those things that I stumbled over and nearly came to a full stop at?

This is a wonderful translation and does deserve a place among the other modern/contemporary translations. Because of that, it also deserves a better job on the editing. Who is culpable here? The publisher? The translator? The editor? I guess I'm not finished....

It just is beyond my small intellectual capacity to understand how such an important book (couple of books, actually) can be released in such a state. It's like letting the king go out in his underclothes. We're floored by the intimacy of those things; we expect majesty; we expect royal robes worthy of the office. Even if these translations are for modern readers, we expect spelling and grammar fit for the work.

Even if it was not Homer, how hard is it to get someone to proof the thing? Would you send your children out to school in rags? I think some in our day would.

Okay, I'm finished with my rant.

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