A highly accessible book infused with sharp considerations of the “first teacher” of Greece and of the epics' enduring...


Graziosi (Classics/Durham Univ.; The Gods of Olympus: A History, 2014, etc.) delivers an excellent guide, rendered with both academic rigor and clarity, to understanding the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as their putative author.

Translated into almost every modern language, these epic poems are cornerstones of the Western literary canon. Homer wrote about Greece's remote past, even for ancient audiences, some of whom regarded these seminal stories as the work of multiple poets, drawn from oral compositions, recomposed again and again in performance and interpreted in manifest ways. Today, Homer is almost as elusive as his character Odysseus—and perhaps as mythical. Herodotus notwithstanding, scholars of classical Greece revered Homer but had no evidence he actually existed. As for modern readers (and viewers), Graziosi points out that most encounter the poems—especially the Odyssey—through other works in varied media rather than by reading the “originals,” themselves subject to millennia of editing. In the end, Graziosi concludes, as did Nietzsche, that Homer's authorship is an aesthetic judgment, not a fact, and that the epics likely were of both oral and written origin. But this debate takes a back seat to her lively observations on the works, their brilliant insights on humanity. and their numerous contradictions. Graziosi's analyses of the literary, linguistic, historical, cultural, and archaeological issues surrounding the poems—not least the “artificial” language of Homeric Greek—are remarkable feats of compression, succinct yet richly detailed. From the existential quality of the Iliad to Odysseus' journey to the Underworld (and how it inspired Dante) to the parallels between Achilles and the Babylonian hero Gilgamesh, this slender volume is fluidly written, provocative, and persuasive.

A highly accessible book infused with sharp considerations of the “first teacher” of Greece and of the epics' enduring power, provenance, and influence not only on antiquity and the Middle Ages, but on the modern world.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-878830-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?