Monday, 23 July 2018

The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters

The Mighty Dead: Why Homer MattersThe Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Longlisted for the 2014 Samuel Johnson prize,' it says on the cover. All I can say is that 2014 must've been a stonking year if this book didn't even make the shortlist! I've seldom read a book that spreads itself so magisterially (and readably) over literary criticism, ancient history, linguistics, morality, poetry, psychology, sociology, and geography. It's in many ways a genre-busting book, containing autobiographical elements alongside insights into Homer, the world of the Ancient Greeks from the Steppe migrations right up to Chicago gang culture. Nothing seems out of place or forced into the narrative. Nicolson wears his learning as lightly as one of Helen's chiffon garments; the gold of his insights as delicately veneer-thin as a golden body image from a Mycenaean tomb. If this didn't win in 2014... what did?

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