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The Return of Ulysses

A Cultural History of Homer's Odyssey

Edith Hall

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2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

This broadly conceived and enlightening look at how Homer’s Odyssey has resonated in the West offers a thematic analysis of the poem’s impact on social and political ideas, institutions, and mores from the ancient world through the present day.

Proving that the epic poem is timeless, Edith Hall identifies fifteen key themes in the Odyssey and uses them to illustrate the extensive and diverse effect that Homer’s work has had on all manner of inquiry, expression, and art. She traces the text’s pervasive thread of influence from the tragedies of classical...

2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

This broadly conceived and enlightening look at how Homer’s Odyssey has resonated in the West offers a thematic analysis of the poem’s impact on social and political ideas, institutions, and mores from the ancient world through the present day.

Proving that the epic poem is timeless, Edith Hall identifies fifteen key themes in the Odyssey and uses them to illustrate the extensive and diverse effect that Homer’s work has had on all manner of inquiry, expression, and art. She traces the text’s pervasive thread of influence from the tragedies of classical Athens and the burlesque of Aristophanes to its contemporary artistic reinterpretations in literature, theatre, opera, popular music, film, and science fiction. In considering the mark of the Odyssey on the modern global world, Hall looks at how the poem affected colonialism and the frontier mentality in the American West, how it engendered contemporary attitudes toward sex, death, war, philosophy, violence, and race, and the ways in which the Odyssey forms the backbone of modern-day psychology.

Accessibly written and timely, The Return of Ulysses establishes the Odyssey as the founding text of Western Civilization and offers a major contribution to the study of Homer’s epic poem, as well as modern insight into its cultural reception and continuing imprint on society.

Reviews

Reviews

British scholar Edith Hall takes 15 aspects of the Odyssey and traces their permutations from ancient times to today. The result is engrossing and enlightening.

Hall is the optimistic traveller par excellence and leads us on a stimulating journey, roving far and wide through both time and space in pursuit of her hero.

[Hall] fills her pages with sharp and often surprising observations about the 'Odyssey' and its spiritual children. She devotes much attention to film ('The Searchers,' 'The Natural,' 'Cold Mountain' and many others), but even reflected in this modern medium, she realizes, the 'Odyssey' owes a measure of its allure to its sheer, echoing antiquity. Reading her good-humored and accessible book is like conversing across the ages.

Hall's study of the Odyssey is thorough, entertaining and well referenced. She offers many ways for the reader to relate Homer's epic to more modern works of literature, art and film, thus bridging the gap between old and new.

The book sparkles with the excitement...

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Part I: Generic Mutations
1. Embarkation
2. Turning Phrases
3. Shape-Shifting
4. Telling Takes
5. Singing Songs
Part II: World and Society
6. Facing Frontiers
7. Colonial Conflict
8. Rites of

Acknowledgments
Part I: Generic Mutations
1. Embarkation
2. Turning Phrases
3. Shape-Shifting
4. Telling Takes
5. Singing Songs
Part II: World and Society
6. Facing Frontiers
7. Colonial Conflict
8. Rites of Man
9. Women's Work
10. Class Consciousness
Part III: Mind and Psyche
11. Brain Power
12. Exile from Ithaca
13. Blood Bath
14. Sex and Sexuality
15. Dialogue with Death
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Edith Hall
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Edith Hall

Edith Hall is a research professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of a number of books on classics, myth, and the ancient world, including Agamemnon in Performance, 458 BC to 2005 AD, and Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars.