RETURN TO ITHACA by Eyvind Johnson


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The Odyssey in modern terms reveals again the immortality of the classic tale. The terms of its modernity lie not in language alone but in total content and outlook. The epic hero of antiquity becomes the hesitant man of our times, sick of his part in war, dreading the outcome of the warning that he must kill to rid his household of suitors -- once again politicians- who eat the substance his wife Penelope, wise economist and wary woman, provides. He dreads, too, her response to his appearance, battered by hardships, feeling the greatness of his manhood fading. This is a novel of the interior man, and the characters become blooded, credible inhabitants of our world. There is the strengthening of the sex theme, the diminishment of the gods, who perhaps survive only in the imagination of man. Even Odysseus' adventures are cut to scale. Yet the present calls to the past -- one turns with quickened longing to the old saga in which natural and super-natural complement each other, as Mark Van Doren says in his introduction.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1952
Publisher: Thames & Hudson