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An Iliad

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An Iliad PDF, ePub eBook A bold reimagining of our civilization's greatest tale of war, by the author of the acclaimed best seller Silk. Alessandro Baricco re-creates the siege of Troy through the voices of twenty-one Homeric characters in the narrative idiom of our modern imagination. Sacrificing none of Homer's panoramic scope, Baricco forgoes Homeric detachment and admits us to realms of subject A bold reimagining of our civilization's greatest tale of war, by the author of the acclaimed best seller Silk. Alessandro Baricco re-creates the siege of Troy through the voices of twenty-one Homeric characters in the narrative idiom of our modern imagination. Sacrificing none of Homer's panoramic scope, Baricco forgoes Homeric detachment and admits us to realms of subjective experience his predecessor never explored. From the return of Chryseis to the burial of Hector, we see through human eyes and feel with human hearts the unforgettable events first recounted almost three thousand years ago ”events arranged not by the whims of the gods in this instance but by the dictates of human nature. With Andromache, Patroclus, Priam, and the rest, we are privy to the ghastly confusion of battle, the clamor of princely councils, the intimacies of the bedchamber”until finally only a blind poet is left to recount, secondhand, the awful fall of Ilium. Imbuing the stuff of legend with a startling new relevancy and humanity, Baricco gives us The Iliad as we have never known it. His transformative achievement is certain to delight and fascinate all readers of Homer's indispensable classic.

30 review for An Iliad

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    This is supposed to be like a chess game: two armies clashing in a fixed, designated field of battle with the gods watching and meddling with their affairs, like players moving the warring chess pieces. Many consider reading the original, however, to be a much daunting task of epic proportions (in the first place, the original is an epic poem, he, he) so what Alessandro Baricco did was to remove the gods from the story, condensed everything and tried to make it as short as his masterpiece Silk ( This is supposed to be like a chess game: two armies clashing in a fixed, designated field of battle with the gods watching and meddling with their affairs, like players moving the warring chess pieces. Many consider reading the original, however, to be a much daunting task of epic proportions (in the first place, the original is an epic poem, he, he) so what Alessandro Baricco did was to remove the gods from the story, condensed everything and tried to make it as short as his masterpiece Silk (he didn't succeed--this is longer than Silk and I do not consider this a masterpiece). He excised many scenes and dialogues, especially the repetitive ones, and made several characters the narrators, each chapter narrated by a specific character. Then he made some additions to the text. These, I think, explain why he entitled this "An Iliad" and not "THE Iliad." There is only one Iliad, a long poem, and this novel is not it. But if you're too lazy to read the original Iliad but wants to know, more or less, what's it all about then this book is the second best and easiest way there is to get educated on the topic (the first being just watching the movie by Eric Bana, Brad Pitt, etc.). So it is still AN Iliad just like the original by Homer. You know the story already from the movie. One beautiful girl, wife of a bigshot in a powerful kingdom, gets seduced by a son of a king of another kingdom who takes her away. The aggrieved kingdom then launches a thousand ships full of warriors and war materiel to get back their dame. The two vast armies then go cracking each other's skulls, disembowelling and spilling each other's guts on the battleground, cutting each other'sbody parts--for ten long years. Many, many years later the girl was made into a song ("If a face could launch a thousand ships..."). Look, then, at the silliness of human conflicts: a cause for war once, now just a silly love song Fun carnage! It tells the reader precisely who kills whom, giving brief biographical sketches of both the slayer and the slain. Violence described with precision: "He raise his spear and hurled it. The bronze tip entered near the eye, went through the white teeth, cut the tongue cleanly at the base, and came out through the neck." You would think that it's someone watching from the sidelines(e.g., a god) narrating this. But no. It's the victim himself--the dead miraculously telling the reader how he died. It continues: "I fell from the chariot--I, a hero--and the last thing I recall is the swift, terrible horses as they swerved in panic. Then my strength abandoned me, and, with it, life" At one point the invading army was already at the verge of defeat mainly for the reason that its greatest fighter wouldn't help his comrades because of a quarrel over--you guessed it right--another beautiful woman. Many years later this great warrior was made into a body part ("Achilles' tendon"). I dog-eared my copy several times to keep track of nice, dramatic quotes from its various characters-narrators. Samples: "Then I turned and looked for Nestor, the old sage Nestor. I wanted to look him in the eyes, and in his eyes see war die, and the arrogance of those who wish for it, and the folly of those who fight it." (Thersites) ********** "It's amid those flames that you should remember me Hector, the defeated, you should remember him standing on the stern of that ship, surrounded by fire. Hector, the dead man dragged by Achilles three times around the walls of his city, you should remember him alive, and victorious, and shining in his bronze and silver armour I learned from a queen the words that are left to me now and that I would like to repeat to you: Remember me, remember me, and forget my fate." (Hector) *********** The best chapter for me, however, is that one narrated by the river. Yes, even the river tells its story here and this chapter starts with this: "I had seen years of war, because a river does not run blindly among men. And for years I had heard their groans, because a river does not run deaf where men are dying. Always impassively I had carried to the sea the discharge of that ferocious conflict. But that day the blood was too much, and the savagery, and the hatred. On the day of Achilles' glory I rebelled, in horror. If you're not afraid of fables, listen to this one...."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marquise

    For a retelling of Homer's The Iliad, this is bland and unimaginative, basically just a regurgitation of the same old, same old with no attempt to add creative twists or make the old story the author's new own. It's supposed to be a chorus story, told from various POVs, but all the POV characters read the same, men and women, young and old...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    One day, Alessandro Baricco decided that it would be of general benefit to the world at large for him to take an uninspired prose translation of The Iliad (the epic poem generally acknowledged as one of the greatest works in all literature), strip from it the stylistic quirks that make it so entirely fascinating, excise all references to the gods who formed such an integral part of the Greek consciousness, change all of it to first person, and add randomly, generic anti-war statements scattered One day, Alessandro Baricco decided that it would be of general benefit to the world at large for him to take an uninspired prose translation of The Iliad (the epic poem generally acknowledged as one of the greatest works in all literature), strip from it the stylistic quirks that make it so entirely fascinating, excise all references to the gods who formed such an integral part of the Greek consciousness, change all of it to first person, and add randomly, generic anti-war statements scattered at seemingly random points throughout the book. And then publish it. Let it suffice to say that this ambition did not succeed. Baricco's aim of having different narrative voices telling the story was undermined by the fact that, because he merely changed the literal point of view throughout, all the 'voices' sounded exactly the same. The pacifist additions by Baricco felt out of place, simplistic, and irritating. And, of course, the removal of the gods, while I understand the concept of the poem's showing a world "abandoned by the gods" nonetheless showed a very one-dimensional view of the world in which The Iliad is set, entirely undermining the tortured emotional complexity rife in Homer's portrayal of fate and free will. If you want to read a modern adaptation of the story of the Trojan war, find someone who does it right - there are plenty out there, and, believe or not, some of them even create distinct narrative voices by themselves! And if you want to read Homer, just sit down and actually read Homer. It's not that frightening. I promise. And the beauty of the poetry makes up for any difficulties that the archaic style may cause. Things like this adaptation only water down the original without telling anything new.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Petergiaquinta

    Reading Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad made me think of this book, a re-imagining of the events surrounding Homer's Iliad (and a bit of The Odyssey) as told through the voices of a number of the characters. I pulled this book off the "new" shelf at my public library, so I probably read it in 2006. It's okay, and if you like Homer then I assume you'd more or less like what Baricco is trying to do here. Nonetheless, there seem to be a number of diehard Iliad fanatics on GoodReads who are troubled by Reading Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad made me think of this book, a re-imagining of the events surrounding Homer's Iliad (and a bit of The Odyssey) as told through the voices of a number of the characters. I pulled this book off the "new" shelf at my public library, so I probably read it in 2006. It's okay, and if you like Homer then I assume you'd more or less like what Baricco is trying to do here. Nonetheless, there seem to be a number of diehard Iliad fanatics on GoodReads who are troubled by Barrico's monkeying with their sacred text, similar to how some readers of Atwood's Penelopiad rejected what she was doing in her book. Me, I'm not bothered a bit. I'm aware that folks have been re-imagining the Greek myths and the stories of Homer for the past three millenia. (These same tight-ass readers must really get their panties in a bunch when they read Philoctetes--the nerve of that Sophocles guy! What's he think he's doing with Odysseus's character?!?) I especially enjoyed Barrico's "Demodocus" chapter and keep a copy of it in my Odyssey files. Demodocus is the bard at the Phaeacian court of Alcinous where Odysseus finds himself near the end of his journeys. Demodocus sings the story of the Horse and the Fall of Troy, and as Odysseus listens he begins to weep. Barrico's retelling and expansion of the scene feels right to me, and it is powerfully done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    the novel nephew of the movie Troy and adorable he is too; no gods, no lyrical rethoric, just the mortal epic played out. We also keep all those gruesome penetrations of the flesh by dory [hoplite spear] that made my jaw drop the first time I tackled dusty ol' Homeros.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mirta (secretlifeofapotterheadgirl)

    Well, this was disappointing. Before starting this little book I knew that lots of people didn’t like it and many of them descrive this as a “bignami” of the Iliad (a bignami is a little book about some books of literature studied at school, some people here in Italy use them as an alternative way to study long books) and I have to agree with them. It’s not for the modern language used to tell a story from 3 thousand years ago, my problem is with the fact that the author rewrite one of the most be Well, this was disappointing. Before starting this little book I knew that lots of people didn’t like it and many of them descrive this as a “bignami” of the Iliad (a bignami is a little book about some books of literature studied at school, some people here in Italy use them as an alternative way to study long books) and I have to agree with them. It’s not for the modern language used to tell a story from 3 thousand years ago, my problem is with the fact that the author rewrite one of the most beautiful and amazing story in barely one hundred and half pages, he cut important part and the few dialogues were terrible. There are plenty of good modern retelling of the Iliad, apparently this wasn’t one of them.

  7. 5 out of 5

    ☕Laura

    Ratings (1 to 5) Writing: 4 Plot: 4 Characters: 4 Emotional impact: 3 Overall rating: 3.75 Favorite quotes: "A real, prophetic, and courageous ambition for peace I see only in the patient and secret work of millions of artists who every day work to create another kind of beauty." p.158

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adair

    “The novel is the epic of a world deserted by the gods.” It is this statement by Lukács that inspired Alessandro Baricco, the bestselling author of Without Blood and Silk, to make the great Homeric poem of the Trojan War contemporary. By stripping away the skirmishing, the whimsicality, and the petty meddling of Zeus and the other gods, Baricco transforms a story that has haunted Western cultures for thousands of years. It is surprisingly accessible. In an attempt to create a story less archaic th “The novel is the epic of a world deserted by the gods.” It is this statement by Lukács that inspired Alessandro Baricco, the bestselling author of Without Blood and Silk, to make the great Homeric poem of the Trojan War contemporary. By stripping away the skirmishing, the whimsicality, and the petty meddling of Zeus and the other gods, Baricco transforms a story that has haunted Western cultures for thousands of years. It is surprisingly accessible. In an attempt to create a story less archaic than the original, Baricco writes in a living language, setting a pace we are used to, but sacrificing none of the richness. He also makes the narrative subjective, telling the story of the siege of Troy through the voices of 21 Homeric characters. While the novel has a flavour of ancient texts, what comes across most poignantly is the human quality of the heroes. These are men drawn to the honour of war and women whose fate resides in the balance. And yet, as Baricco points out, the leaders seek peace, embarking on drawn out negotiations and agreements as a way to end the bloodshed. They are despondent over the loss of human life. Baricco’s retelling underscores the condemnation of war threaded through a narrative that seems to glorify combat. What is most enthralling, and what Baricco is determined to retain, is that the story of The Iliad is told by conquerors with a surprising compassion for the motivations and experience of the conquered, something today’s leaders would do well to follow.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Italo Perazzoli

    Title: Iliad Author: Homer Adapted By: Alessandro Baricco Publisher: La Feltrinelli - Milan Pages: 162 Review This is a simplified version of the Iliad, written by Homer, it is like a theatrical representation, where at the center there is the masculine innate love for the war as a synonym of virility, beauty and attraction for the evil and the love for Elena. In the shadows of this poem, it is clear that the women are more rationals rather than the man, because the masculine ego is summarised in this Title: Iliad Author: Homer Adapted By: Alessandro Baricco Publisher: La Feltrinelli - Milan Pages: 162 Review This is a simplified version of the Iliad, written by Homer, it is like a theatrical representation, where at the center there is the masculine innate love for the war as a synonym of virility, beauty and attraction for the evil and the love for Elena. In the shadows of this poem, it is clear that the women are more rationals rather than the man, because the masculine ego is summarised in this phrase at page 118 when Achilles said: that the reason of the war was Elena being a promoter of the masculine's wrath, able to enter inside the soul of a wise man and able to confuse his mind and bring inside the mind wrath and rancor. Reading this pages I've been fascinate by the epic description of the war, so powerful and engaging, it is clear that in every human being, mostly masculine, are affascinated by the war. My philosophical provocation is the following: if we lived in a society prevailed by women, there was this war? If we look at Elena and other women we see clearly that they are peace oriented, being more rational and intelligent, have a look at Cassandra and her intuition about the Troy's horse. The worst human condition for the humanity is at page 65 where there is written that the destiny is the same for everyone if you are a hero or a coward.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Interesting premise: the author stripped down the Iliad of Homer and told the story from the 1st person viewpoints of many of the characters, plus the river. It began with Chryseis, kidnapped by Agamemnon, and how she was returned to her father. The war progressed, in the voices of many important and unimportant characters. In an epilogue, a bard told of the Trojan Horse and how Troy was finally captured, by stealth. There were no "dei ex machinae"; the novel concentrated on the action and the c Interesting premise: the author stripped down the Iliad of Homer and told the story from the 1st person viewpoints of many of the characters, plus the river. It began with Chryseis, kidnapped by Agamemnon, and how she was returned to her father. The war progressed, in the voices of many important and unimportant characters. In an epilogue, a bard told of the Trojan Horse and how Troy was finally captured, by stealth. There were no "dei ex machinae"; the novel concentrated on the action and the characters' thoughts. Italicizing, I finally figured out, by the Patroclus section, meant the particular person was speaking after death. Homer was a long-winded fellow, but I missed his vivid descriptions. This novel was a good introduction to the Iliad, to get the jist, but then I'd recommend reading the original epic. Besides my curiosity as to the treatment of the story, I was attracted by the creepy-looking helmet on the cover.

  11. 5 out of 5

    B.R. Sanders

    There is a thing I do not exactly intentionally: sometimes I’ll seek out new musicians by listening to covers of my favorite songs. It’s a way of being able to listen to the music and the voice without worrying about the content. I already know I like what they’re singing—the question becomes do I like how they’re singing it. Alessandro Baricco’s AN ILIAD is, I think, the first time I’ve applied this technique to the written word. That is, I knew the story Baricco was going to tell me before I k There is a thing I do not exactly intentionally: sometimes I’ll seek out new musicians by listening to covers of my favorite songs. It’s a way of being able to listen to the music and the voice without worrying about the content. I already know I like what they’re singing—the question becomes do I like how they’re singing it. Alessandro Baricco’s AN ILIAD is, I think, the first time I’ve applied this technique to the written word. That is, I knew the story Baricco was going to tell me before I knew how he was going to tell it. AN ILIAD is exactly what the title says it is—the old, famous story told again. Or, rather, it’s a compendium of multiple Iliads: Baricco recasts the epic as a novel told from multiple points of view. Chapter by chapter the events unfold themselves through shifting eyes. Yes, we listen while Achilles speaks his piece and when Hector speaks his, but Baricco gives equal weight to traditionally smaller or altogether forgotten voices: Helen, Pandarus and Andromache for starters. Voices of the attacking Greeks and the Trojans under their seige are represented in equal measure. Through the eyes of Priam and others, we see what is happening within the walls of Troy with the same emotional weight and precision as what happens on the battlefield. It’s a fascinating way to retell a familiar story. Here, the sheer power of the story remains, but instead of a classical epic it now feels like a gritty oral history. Doing so humanizes the heroes, brings them literally down to earth. As an oral history, this book is about death. And it’s about peace. No one in the war seems to truly want to fight it. There is a feeling amongst the soldiers on both sides that it is a pointless war, that it’s an inconvenience more than anything else. There is a resignation felt in the book over and over again as character after character lets themselves slip into death. Characters tell their story as they die. They tell their story from beyond the grave. Sometimes the distance in the oral history slips and the characters begin to address, directly, one another to great effect. This quote more or less sums up how Baricco tells the Iliad: There is nothing on the face of the earth, nothing that breathes or walks, nothing so unhappy as man. Baricco has an obvious reverence for the source material. He speaks at length in the introduction about the care he took with it while writing the book. This is a thin volume, much smaller than straight translations of the original epic, but Baricco worked to maintain the work mostly as a whole, removing only repetitions and scenes in which the gods themselves appear (which I think was an interesting and ultimately very effective choice). He sprinkles throughout small additions where the characters speak more about their internal thoughts and motivations, but he diligently marked in italics in the text as additions. The problem for me was that I think Barrico erred too much on the side of caution here: his italicized original contributions are wonderfully rich and poetic. They add a great deal to the original work. And much of what he left in—long, dragging fight scenes that really just become lists of what the fallen wore as armor—could have been further condensed to better effect. The book simultaneously turned me into a definite fan of Baricco and highlighted once again my ambivalent relationship to the Iliad*. It would have been a stronger, more successful book had Baricco trusted his own voice more. A final note on format: I read the kindle version, and I wish I’d read it in hardcopy. There are few things more frustrating to me than a truly lovely book that’s been shoddily released as an ebook. This was a traditionally published book with substantial resources behind it, and there was no reason for the awkward reading experience I had** to have happened. I recommend this book, and I especially recommend it in hardcopy. *There is nothing, though, ambivalent about my views on Paris. What an asshat. Literally no one ever has anything nice to say about Paris besides the fact that he’s pretty. **Specifically, there was inconsistent formatting, little use of white space which made headings and transitions awkward, and a bizarre recurrence of unnecessarily hyphenated words (words hyphenated in the middle of a line as if they had once been at a line break).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

    4.75

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book begins with the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon and ends with the death of Hector, with a concluding summary chapter about the fall of Troy. I'm really into the whole Greek mythology and Trojan War stuff, so I enjoyed this book because it retold a familiar story in a unique way. However, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but diehard Trojan War aficionados. The book drags on in many places, and is filled with horrible dialogue. Simplifying and modernizing are one thing, but if This book begins with the argument between Achilles and Agamemnon and ends with the death of Hector, with a concluding summary chapter about the fall of Troy. I'm really into the whole Greek mythology and Trojan War stuff, so I enjoyed this book because it retold a familiar story in a unique way. However, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but diehard Trojan War aficionados. The book drags on in many places, and is filled with horrible dialogue. Simplifying and modernizing are one thing, but if you're going to have things like, "Hey, Patroclus" then the rest of the dialogue needs to flow in that sort of casual, believable way. The dialogue tended to remain long-winded and old-fashioned, which didn't fit with what the book was trying to do. I'm not sure how much if this is a translation issue, since the book was written in Italian. Each chapter is narrated by a different character or characters, which is actually kind of cool when it is successful. The problem comes when a chapter is narrated in the third person, and then shifts to first person for a paragraph, and then jumps back. This happens quite a bit. Also, there were several instances in which the chosen narrator would really have had no idea what was going on at a certain point in time. For instance, the first chapter is narrated by Chryseis, but she tells most of the story about the argument between Agamemnon and Achilles while physically on a boat being sent back to her father. Andromache narrates what Achilles and Hector say to each other, but she is watching from the top of the city wall (Her chapter is an instance of the third person/first person confusion). It would have been interesting to have had these characters narrate the events in fragments, missing most of the information, but speaking from their point of view. Assuming the reader is familiar with the story of the Trojan War, it's not necessary to retell every event as it happened. Just suggesting it might be more effective. Another point-of-view issue I had was when three people narrated one chapter, and took turns in each paragraph. Way too confusing. Oh yeah, and then there was the issue of the Italics, which symbolized the narrator speaking as a dead person. The italics eventually stopped about halfway through the book. This is extremely detailed in its violence, and includes a litany of hundreds of names as the people in question are killed and stripped of their armor and dismembered. I liked that the gods didn't play an active role in the story, which made it a tale about what humans do to each other in war. My favorite part was the author's note at the end about the current state of the world, and the ongoing fascination our species seems to have with war.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tristan

    Alessandro Baricco’s retelling of the classic and loved novel, The Iliad, is a true work of creativity and genius. Anyone who is interested in the topic of The Iliad, but is intimidated by its length should definitely read Baricco’s novel, as it gives the reader background and basic knowledge of the Trojan War, but doesn’t go into as much complication and vocabulary as The Iliad. The way he writes the book is giving each character a chapter from his/her point of view and shows how they really fe Alessandro Baricco’s retelling of the classic and loved novel, The Iliad, is a true work of creativity and genius. Anyone who is interested in the topic of The Iliad, but is intimidated by its length should definitely read Baricco’s novel, as it gives the reader background and basic knowledge of the Trojan War, but doesn’t go into as much complication and vocabulary as The Iliad. The way he writes the book is giving each character a chapter from his/her point of view and shows how they really feel about the actual events taking place. This is an interesting and creative way to look at the events of the Trojan War, however, because of this, the plot tends to drift at times. Nothing ends up really happening, it just tells the story of each character and how they cope with their own problems regarding the war. In some cases, this particular plot style worked successfully in movies such as Pulp Fiction, and others. However, if Baricco were to set it up this way, she would need to use fewer characters, and eventually tie it up in the end with a battle or a scene in which all of those characters are featured in one scene, and tie the whole book together. That being said, there are some very interesting chapters in this book. It starts with Achilles, who is mad at Agamemnon for misusing him and not seeing him in who he really his, as Agamemnon steals his wife. It travels on to Menelaus, who has lost Helen as a wife, and then to Helen, and how she actually feels currently about a whole war fought only over her, and that this war was her fault. I could name all the Greek characters that have a portion of this book, but my favorite chapter has to be The River. It is a chapter based only on Achilles and the river, and it shows how the river feels about being bathed in, and washing in, and how he doesn’t like the very thing that he is. This chapter is a stroke of true genius, and one of the best and most amazing chapters to read in any book. As a final tip, keep in mind one thing: This book is called An Iliad, not The Iliad. Homer’s epic will forever stand as one of the best and most classic novels of all time. I have never read it, but anyone who wants to tackle it, I highly suggest it. An Iliad is just a clever retelling of the epic, and it is for anyone who is too lazy to read The Iliad, but loves the topic. If that is you, Baricco’s novel will enchant you with the facts and battles of the Trojan War, and you will like this book just as much as I have.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike Rogers

    I found myself wondering, as I read the introduction to this modern retelling of Homer's "Iliad", if anything useful or worthy could be gleaned by reading this book. What on earth is the point of taking one of the world's greatest stories and retelling it in a different style than the one in which it was written? As it turns out, not much. The attempt at making the "Iliad" more accessible to modern readers is a worthy one, but Baricco is unable to pull it off. He strips the story down, eliminates I found myself wondering, as I read the introduction to this modern retelling of Homer's "Iliad", if anything useful or worthy could be gleaned by reading this book. What on earth is the point of taking one of the world's greatest stories and retelling it in a different style than the one in which it was written? As it turns out, not much. The attempt at making the "Iliad" more accessible to modern readers is a worthy one, but Baricco is unable to pull it off. He strips the story down, eliminates whole passages, deletes all appearances of the gods, and at times even adds his own words (in italics of course) to the narrative, leaving this book with none of the beauty or cadence and few of the insights and themes found in the original. At times the writing made me cringe and more than once made me want to compare it to the original (translated) passage. Although I didn't refer to the original while reading, I will now to give an idea of how ridiculous this book really is. Here's a scene from Book One - a quote from Achilles - as the original was translated by Alexander Pope: "...when bleeding Greece again Shall call Achilles, she shall call in vain. When, flush'd with slaughter, Hector comes to spread The purpled shore with mountains of the dead, Then shall thou mourn the affront thy madness gave, Forced to deplore when impotent to save: Then rage in bitterness of soul to know This act has made the bravest Greek thy foe." And here's how Baricco tells it: "The day will come when the Achaeans, all of them, will long for me. When they are dropping under Hector's assaults they will long for me. And you will suffer for them, but will be able to do nothing. You will only remember the day that you insulted the best of the Achaeans and go mad with rage and remorse." Now I'm certainly no scholar, but the first passage seems superior to me. If Pope's translation is believed to be a true one (and I have no idea if that's the case), one could argue that Baricco actually changes the meaning of Achilles' words in this passage! Do yourself a favor and read a more traditional translation of this epic poem. I certainly want to after reading Baricco's version.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Cohen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Right from the start, the book captured my attention. It was told from the perspective of a woman captured from Thebes, Chryseis, who at first seemed but another minor character. While true, the fight regarding her almost lost the war for the Achaeans. This chapter, told from the perspective of an observer, was one of my favorites. It allowed the reader to see how others viewed main characters such as Agamemnon and Achilles. Other chapters allowed the reader to view the minds of the main charact Right from the start, the book captured my attention. It was told from the perspective of a woman captured from Thebes, Chryseis, who at first seemed but another minor character. While true, the fight regarding her almost lost the war for the Achaeans. This chapter, told from the perspective of an observer, was one of my favorites. It allowed the reader to see how others viewed main characters such as Agamemnon and Achilles. Other chapters allowed the reader to view the minds of the main characters. A particularly riveting one was that told from the perspective of the River, a favorite among others who read this book. The River’s ideas and thoughts about war were refreshing to hear after long battle sequences. Some chapters, however, failed to live up to these standards. Many chapters sounded the same and dragged on, despite the change of first person. The battles were descriptive but did not grab at me the way other books have. To me, it seemed more like a list of who had killed whom. However, my favorite chapter was the last one, told from the perspective of a harp minstrel. The book jumps ahead in the future, to after the war, where Odysseus has landed shipwrecked on the Phaeacian’s island. In their great hall, a harp minstrel sings of the Fall of Troy. As Odysseus cries in the background, the King asks for the stranger’s name. In response, Odysseus declares, “I am Odysseus. I come from Ithaca, and there, one day, I will return.” For those of us who have read the Odyssey, this chapter was very exciting. I had read this exact passage, told from Odysseus’s view and the entire song is skipped. Hearing the reason behind Odysseus’s suffering allowed me a new perspective. Some reviewers complained that the language in Baricco’s version does not match that of Homer’s original. I believe what they misunderstand is that an Iliad was not supposed to be a copy of the Iliad. Baricco simply shortens the Iliad into a version, which gives a nice overview of the original. Overall, this book inspired me to look at the Odyssey and life in new ways. A good read I would easily recommend to others.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Alessandro Baricco’s An Iliad is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad, born out of the author’s desire to stage a performance of the latter where the entire work would be read by actors. Upon the realisation that The Iliad was far too long for such a treatment, Baricco condensed and edited the work down to a slim 176 page volume in which twenty-characters from The Iliad tell its story. My gut instinct is that this work would be a lot better if, instead of reading this on the train as I did, I saw this wi Alessandro Baricco’s An Iliad is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad, born out of the author’s desire to stage a performance of the latter where the entire work would be read by actors. Upon the realisation that The Iliad was far too long for such a treatment, Baricco condensed and edited the work down to a slim 176 page volume in which twenty-characters from The Iliad tell its story. My gut instinct is that this work would be a lot better if, instead of reading this on the train as I did, I saw this with actors performing each character, imbuing them with personality and emotion. The piece, as read, comes across as a bit strange. Although told in the first person, it’s almost a mash up of first person with third person omniscient – the characters talk of things that they shouldn’t know, their voices go beyond their bodies, describing in detail events they weren’t there for. Baricco cuts the gods out from the story (apart from their presence in the religion of the characters), which does leave some plot holes. The best parts for me were Baricco’s italicised ‘additions’ (i.e. the parts he hasn’t drawn from Homer directly) to the piece where the characters seem to use to question their role in this epic. This was the only time I felt a spark of anything from this work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Just a quick one: I am a diehard Troy/Iliad reader and am doing research in order to write my thesis about Andromache in the next couple of years. A friend picked this book up for me specifically because it included a chapter from Andromache's point of view. As a concept, this is a good idea. In my opinion there are too many Helen-centric or Achilles-centric narratives taken from the Iliad when other characters have just as much to say. However, in An Iliad, the first person voices aren't varied Just a quick one: I am a diehard Troy/Iliad reader and am doing research in order to write my thesis about Andromache in the next couple of years. A friend picked this book up for me specifically because it included a chapter from Andromache's point of view. As a concept, this is a good idea. In my opinion there are too many Helen-centric or Achilles-centric narratives taken from the Iliad when other characters have just as much to say. However, in An Iliad, the first person voices aren't varied at all and the most jarring aspect of the book is the head-hopping point of view switching that doesn't just happen from section to section, it also happens from sentence to sentence. The biggest example of this was in Priam's section were it went from a third person telling referring to him as 'The Old King' in a few lines, then switched to first person and an 'I' narrative. It jumped like this over and over which made it hard for me to care about the characters or what was happening. People with no knowledge of the Iliad are likely to be bored with the constant listing of combatants. People like me, who love the story and feel quite close to it, are going to be frustrated and annoyed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Natt Okeeffe

    I had to read this book for my Universal Literature class. I was very hesitant at first because it is a very old classic and I feared that even in an easier version it would be confusing and difficult to read. I am very glad that was not the case. The Illiad follows the story of the Trojan war where greeks and spartans fought. Originally it was caused by the rapture of Menelaos wife Helena by Paris. But the war had been going on for several years and this book narrates the last stretch of it. The I had to read this book for my Universal Literature class. I was very hesitant at first because it is a very old classic and I feared that even in an easier version it would be confusing and difficult to read. I am very glad that was not the case. The Illiad follows the story of the Trojan war where greeks and spartans fought. Originally it was caused by the rapture of Menelao´s wife Helena by Paris. But the war had been going on for several years and this book narrates the last stretch of it. The fact that this is an actual part of history is what made it so interesting for me. I have been hearing all my life about these different greek personalities but I never got the chance to actually know about them until now. They were all great characters, especially Aquiles and Hector. The way they fough at the end really made me love the story. If you are interested in this area of history or if you are interested in greek things in general I would recommend this book and please don´t be intimidated by the original work.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Noelle

    This is one of the hardest books that I've ever had to read. I had to read this one in high school and then when my son had to read it, I thought I'd try it again just to see. It's still just as difficult and makes no sense to me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book started out well. Unfortunately, about half way through it deteriorated. It was so slow and downright boring that I struggled through three more chapters before giving up on page 74. Life is too short to read bad books.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Baricco the meddler strikes again. Next he'll shrink the Old Testament into a hundred pages about a man throwing rocks at people from a cliff.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark Trenier

    This is an excellent way to get the spirit of Homer's Iliad. The language had a simplicity and beauty that would have kept the ancient Greeks enthralled. I highly suggest you give this book a try.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Its not everyday you get a new point of view from an old familiar tale. I'll look it up.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kb

    An admirable re-telling of a classic

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christine Seaver

    3.5 Stars

  27. 4 out of 5

    H R Koelling

    I didn't like this as much as The Odyssey.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gonzalo Villava

    I love the Greeks, nevertheless I enjoyed Bariccos work very much and hope many young people approach the classics trough this memorable version.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ayten

    I want to read this book

  30. 4 out of 5

    mentalexotica

    A unique, compelling retelling of Homer's classic.

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