“The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters”
By Adam Nicolson in 2014
William Collins, 2015
Homer was the one with whom I started my Enseaclopedic voyage more than a year ago. Back then I had only a vague idea what I want to accomplish and didn’t really know which books to read. But I knew that I can’t go wrong with Homer. I was right, and I fell in love with his epics, almost 3000 years old, but alive and well.
I haven’t read this book by Adam Nicolson from cover to cover yet, but the Introduction and first chapter Meeting Homer makes me think that I will love it.
“I had never understood Homer as a boy. .. Now I had Fagle’s words in front of me. Half idly, I had brought his translation of the Odyssey with me on the Auk, as something I thought I might look at on my own sailing journey in the North Atlantic. But as I read, a man in the middle of his life, I suddenly saw that this was not a poem about “then” and “there”, but “now” and “here”. The poem describes the inner geography of those who hear it. .. I began to see Homer as a guide to life, even as a kind of scripture.”
Adam Nicolson, The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters, 2014
“As grasping as a thriller and as delicately constructed as a sonnet … an astonishing tour de force,” writes Daily Telegraph. “Only the hardiest immune systems will be able to resist his unselfconscious adoration of the poet. Anyone who feels they never “got” Homer should read this book,” writes Sunday Times and adds “[A] brilliant, passionate, world-wandering love letter to Homer.” Although I’ve already fallen in love with Homer, I want to read this book to see him with the eyes of Adam Nicolson.
From the back cover of the book:
“”The Mighty Dead” is a magical journey of discovery across wide stretches of the past, sewn together by some of the oldest stories we have – the great ancient tales of Homer and their metaphors of life and suffering. In this provocative and enthralling book, Adam Nicolson explains why Homer still matters and how these vital, epic poems – with their focus on the eternal questions about the individual versus community, honor and service, love and war – tell us how we became who we are.”
When I will finish this one, I will definitely order Sea Room: An Island Life, where Adam Nicolson tells what happened to him 30 years ago. Aged 21, Nicolson inherited the Shiants, three lonely Hebridean islands set in a dangerous sea off the Isle of Lewis. With only a stone bothy for accommodation and half a million puffins for company, he found himself in charge of one of the most beautiful places on earth. But that will be later, now I add this wonderful book about Homer to the Greek shelf of my Sea Library.