Troy by Stephen Fry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this take on the Illiad, but let me say exactly HOW and WHY I loved it.
Of course, there are much more detailed and complex analyses of the work. There are probably dozens if not a hundred different translations and fanboys *scholars* who can tell you things like how much wood was used to make the horse.
This is not that.
It is, however, a work that strikes a very wonderful balance between erudition and an unproblematic focus on the most important characters, but it explains everything in an easy voice often punctuated with wry humor. This is Fry, after all, and he's nothing if not charming and often wry.
And this is the greatest gift of this book. The readability.
I'll be honest. I've often loved to read the Illiad itself and have enjoyed a great number of side stories by other greats (like Shakespeare) or retellings by modern novelists, but however good these are, few come truly close to the grandeur of the original. And the original, (or at least the English translation I'm always reading,) has a very annoying (to me) feature of lists, lists, lists, lists and more lists. Do I get tired of names after names after names? Sadly, yes, I do. Genesis (book, not group) also gives me a headache. :)
Fry has a wonderful way of SKIPPING that and directing our attention to the most important bits. I LOVE that.
I totally recommend this. It's probably a bit more readable than any other book of its type. :)
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