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War Music: An Account of Homer's Iliad (Omnibus ed.)

por Christopher Logue

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Logue's Homer (Omnibus 1-5)

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""Your life at every instant up for-- / Gone. / And, candidly, who gives a toss? / Your heart beats strong. Your spirit grips" writes Christopher Logue in his original adaption of Homer's Iliad, the uncanny "translation of translations" that won ecstatic and unparalleled acclaim as "the best translation of Homer since Pope's" (The New York Review of Books). Logue's account of Homer's Iliad is a radical reimagining and reconfiguration of Homer's tale of warfare, human folly, and the power of the gods in language and verse that is emphatically modern and "possessed of a very terrible beauty" (Slate). Illness prevented him from bringing his version of the Iliad to completion, but enough survives in notebooks and letters to assemble a compilation of War Music, Kings, The Husbands, and All Day Permanent Red, along with previously unpublished material, in one final illuminating volume arranged by his friend and fellow poet Christopher Reid. The result comes as near as possible to representing the poet's complete vision and confirms what his admirers have long known: that "Logue's Homer is likely to endure as one of the great long poems of the twentieth century" (The Times Literary Supplement)"--… (mais)
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The cover calls it a "reimagining" of The Iliad as opposed to a straight retranslation; thus all the non-Greek names, extreme recharacterizations, and anachronistic references to Napoleon and nuclear weapons, etc. It can also be seen as more of an Ezra Pound-style Modernist poem that happens to be composed of material from The Iliad, but either way it's brilliant, one of the most enjoyable Iliad-derived works I've read in a long time. Forget that Logue didn't fully complete it before he died, or that it uses the full Modernist arsenal of poetic tricks instead of a more traditional Homeric style, or that Logue didn't even read Greek and had to rely on secondary works and his own poetic license: this is the freshest look at the Iliad you're likely to read, and you wish that he had been able to finish the whole thing up.

Every once in a while, someone gets the idea to retranslate a classic like The Iliad. Sometimes this gets done for accuracy reasons, as our modern knowledge of the ancient language, culture, or setting improves; sometimes it's done merely to keep the language fresh and readable for a contemporary audience; sometimes it's because some hubristic mortal actually believes they've found something new in one of the most studied works on the planet. While I'm sure there are many reasons beyond simple cultural inertia for why The Iliad is still so popular, one reason is that it offers a seemingly inexhaustible mine of great characters, with such strong identities that they've become archetypes. Achilles, the world's mightiest warrior! Helen, the world's most beautiful woman! Odysseus, the world's greatest liar! The lasting popularity of such superlative individuals is no mystery, and I think there's a good paper to be written about how modern superhero comics culture relates back to the enduring affection for Greek mythology. Didn't the Victorians appreciate a good Achilles reference the way we appreciate the equivalent for Batman, the world's greatest detective?

Logue even delivers the action in this breathless, pulpy, comic book-ish way. Hector and Achilles slaughter their enemies like video game characters, with close-up cutscenes whenever someone important like Patroclus or Sarpedon gets killed. It's not enough for them to simply die, they get long, loving, blood-soaked passages, reveling in both the cruelty of war, and the extent to which mortals are merely playthings for divine family squabbles. The gods are for the most part petty and puerile, their interactions with Zeus often conveyed as the pleas of small children to an occasionally indulgent father, and their epithets are amazing: Achilles is Wondersulk, Aphrodite is the Lady of Tops and Thongs, Apollo the God of Mice. The central theme of the Iliad - the impotence of men's plans beneath the whims of the gods - is only enhanced by the portrayal of their caprice, as well as in the quick cuts Logue makes between the different characters and even through time, analepsis and prolepsis jammed in right after each other, rearranging and reinterpreting the original material. It really does feel like a modern revision of the story.

And the language Logue uses that does even more to heighten that impression. The translation I've spent the most time with is Robert Fagels' Penguin Classics one. It's great, but it's very "traditional" - in other words it tries to strike a balance between the meaning of the original Greek and its rhythm. It's perfectly pleasant on its own, but compare it to a passage from War Music, right before battle is truly joined:

"Think of those fields of light that sometimes sheet
Low tide sands, and of the panes of such a tide
When, carrying the sky, they start to flow
Everywhere, and then across themselves.
Likewise the Greek bronze streaming out at speed,
Glinting among the orchards and the groves,
And then across the plain - dust, grass, no grass,
Its long low swells and falls - all warwear pearl,
Blue Heaven above,
Mt Ida's snow behind, Troy in between.
And what pleasure it was to be there!
To be one of that host!
Greek, and as naked as God! naked as bride and groom!
Exulting for battle!"

Or a conversation between Zeus and Poseidon:

"'Brother,' God said, 'your altars smoke on every coast
To catch your voice, grave saints in oilskins lean across the waves.
Try not to let the humans bother you -
My full associate is destiny. Between ourselves'
(Leading him out onto the sand) 'I may wind up this war.
And then, Pope of the Oceans, with Greece rowing home
You will have sacrifices up to here... and as they heave
Your train of overhanging crests can sink them pitilessly.
But later - when I give the nod.'"

Or after the death of Sarpedon:

"And God turned to Apollo, saying:
'Mousegod, take My Sarpedon out of range
And clarify his wounds with mountain water.
Moisten his body with tinctures of white myrrh
And violet iodine; and when these chrisms are dry
Fold him in miniver that never wears
And lints that never fade,
And call My two blind footmen, Sleep and Death,
To carry him to Lycia by Taurus,
Where, playing stone chimes and tambourines,
The Lycians will consecrate his death,
Before whose memory the stones shall fade.'"

I could go on. It's a shame that what could potentially have been the most intriguing section, "Big Men Falling a Long Way", about the battle between Achilles and Hector, is unfinished. However, what Logue has actually done is extraordinary. As a "reimagining", I would rank it up with there with Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of The Odyssey. It made me appreciate the beauty of the original Iliad even more than I already did. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Rather surprisingly, not over-rated, and easily the best book of poetry I've read for some time. I find myself with very little to say, except that it's a wonderful lesson in how to combine the elliptical and the complex with psychology and plot. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
I've thought this same thought about many books in 2016--what a great reading year!--but [b:War Music: An Account of Homer's Iliad|25666078|War Music An Account of Homer's Iliad|Christopher Logue|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1444635123s/25666078.jpg|45489211] is one of the great works I've read over the last 12 months, really magnificent and magical, not a translation of Homer on any level and yet not quite an adaptation either because it feels like it gets to the visceral center of what Homer is about. The scenes are not analogous to a translation--for example instead of beginning with the famous line invoking the muse to sing of Achilles's rage, it opens instead this way:

Picture the east Aegean sea by night,
And on a beach aslant its shimmering
Upwards of 50,000 men
Asleep like spoons beside their lethal fleet.

And on and on, a completely different poem about the same conflicts and characters--to borrow a word from these first lines, "aslant" with new perspectives and new meanings. The power of the poetry is heart-striking on every page and in this way it rises above translation in its expressiveness in English. Remarkable in so many ways. I do think it requires a strong familiarity with the original poem to access, though, because it's in the interstitial differences from the original that a lot of its meanings germinate. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
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This 2015 omnibus edition collects all material in Logue's Homer translation and includes previously unpublished material. Do not combine with partial works with similar War Music titles.
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""Your life at every instant up for-- / Gone. / And, candidly, who gives a toss? / Your heart beats strong. Your spirit grips" writes Christopher Logue in his original adaption of Homer's Iliad, the uncanny "translation of translations" that won ecstatic and unparalleled acclaim as "the best translation of Homer since Pope's" (The New York Review of Books). Logue's account of Homer's Iliad is a radical reimagining and reconfiguration of Homer's tale of warfare, human folly, and the power of the gods in language and verse that is emphatically modern and "possessed of a very terrible beauty" (Slate). Illness prevented him from bringing his version of the Iliad to completion, but enough survives in notebooks and letters to assemble a compilation of War Music, Kings, The Husbands, and All Day Permanent Red, along with previously unpublished material, in one final illuminating volume arranged by his friend and fellow poet Christopher Reid. The result comes as near as possible to representing the poet's complete vision and confirms what his admirers have long known: that "Logue's Homer is likely to endure as one of the great long poems of the twentieth century" (The Times Literary Supplement)"--

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