An Odyssey
From award-winning memoirist and critic, and bestselling author of The Lost: a deeply moving tale of a father and son's transformative journey in reading--and reliving--Homer's epic masterpiece.When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. For Jay, a retired research scientist who sees the world through a mathematician's unforgiving eyes, this return to the classroom is his "one last chance" to learn the great literature he'd neglected in his youth--and, even more, a final opportunity to more fully understand his son, a writer and classicist. But through the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer's great work together--first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son's interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus's famous voyages--it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: Jay's responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn's narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home. Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar's most triumphant entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration.

An Odyssey Details

TitleAn Odyssey
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2017
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139780385350594
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Travel, Classics, Biography Memoir

An Odyssey Review

  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I can't imagine that classics professor, Daniel Mendelsohn, imagined having his father join his class on Homer's Odyssey would have had quite the impact it did, on him, his students, or on those of us reading this memoir/lit crit. Tackling and untangling the themes of the classic poem, especially the threads of father/son relations, within this unusual class set up allowed for an unconventional yet entirely apropos and moving exploration of his own family dynamic. Critical evaluations of books o I can't imagine that classics professor, Daniel Mendelsohn, imagined having his father join his class on Homer's Odyssey would have had quite the impact it did, on him, his students, or on those of us reading this memoir/lit crit. Tackling and untangling the themes of the classic poem, especially the threads of father/son relations, within this unusual class set up allowed for an unconventional yet entirely apropos and moving exploration of his own family dynamic. Critical evaluations of books of The Odyssey link to the author's recollections and musings about childhood, marriage, education, and death- all themselves important aspects of the poem's narrative. Everything is intensely intertwined, reflecting and building the connections between ancient and modern worlds. Even the very structure of the book harks back to the Homeric means of storytelling, the interweaving of past, present, and future to present a multilayered, episodic, and purposeful text that has life lessons at its heart. At the end, there's significant self-reflection. Like both Odysseus and Telemachus in the poem, it is clear Daniel Mendelsohn learnt something through sharing this experience with his father and in writing this book about it. I certainly did- not only about the poem itself and the ways of reading it, but about the layered miscommunication that can persist within families. There may be a few small sections that only a classics student could love, the in-depth discussions of specific Greek etymology for example, but they are far outweighed by the larger, more universal issues addressed by Mendelsohn- that of personal identity and the ways (and extent to which) we can know another person, which underly both The Odyssey and his own potential to understand his father. It is incredibly well done- I defy anyone to leave it without an evaluative mindset towards their own familial relationships or a desire to immediately read or reread The Odyssey. Above all, Mendelsohn's passion for the text shines through this book and by the close, it is clear that it can still have a role to play in understanding human behaviour. For those new to it, and rereaders alike, I highly recommend the fresh and vibrant Emily Wilson translation.ARC via Netgalley
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  • Davide
    January 1, 1970
    «Non puoi metterti a scrivere niente finché non hai letto tutto»Un libro sul rapporto padre-figlio? Un libro sull'insegnamento dell'Odissea? Un libro sull'insegnamento? Un libro sui rapporti?Al corso di Lettere classiche 125, dedicato all’Odissea di Omero, al Bard College, partecipa inaspettatamente anche il padre del professore, un «ricercatore scientifico in pensione allora ottantunenne». L’interpretazione di Omero e la narrazione del seminario si incrociano quindi con la ricerca (e l'interpre «Non puoi metterti a scrivere niente finché non hai letto tutto»Un libro sul rapporto padre-figlio? Un libro sull'insegnamento dell'Odissea? Un libro sull'insegnamento? Un libro sui rapporti?Al corso di Lettere classiche 125, dedicato all’Odissea di Omero, al Bard College, partecipa inaspettatamente anche il padre del professore, un «ricercatore scientifico in pensione allora ottantunenne». L’interpretazione di Omero e la narrazione del seminario si incrociano quindi con la ricerca (e l'interpretazione) dei ricordi familiari e poi con la narrazione di una crociera col padre sui luoghi dell’Odissea.Tre generazioni nella classe (e vanno contate anche le belle apparizioni delle due maestre di Daniel negli studi classici: Froma Zeitlin e Jenny Strauss Clay), come nella battaglia finale dell'Odissea: Laerte-Odisseo-Telemaco.Sì un libro sul rapporto padre-figlio: «Il mio risentimento per la sua durezza, per la sua insistenza sul fatto che la difficoltà era segno di valore e che del piacere c’era da diffidare mentre la fatica veniva sempre ricompensata, ora mi suona ironico, perché sospetto che proprio quelle qualità mi abbiano spinto allo studio delle lettere classiche.»E un libro sull'insegnamento: «la bellezza e il piacere sono il cuore dell’insegnamento»; «una delle stranezze dell’insegnamento è che non puoi mai sapere quale effetto farai sugli altri.» E anche sull'interpretazione e sullo studio serio: «non puoi metterti a scrivere niente finché non hai letto tutto», dice una delle due maestre.Ma soprattutto un libro sull'imparare: imparano gli studenti, i figli, gli adolescenti, ma anche gli insegnanti, i padri e le madri; imparano dalla letteratura e dall'esperienza; o meglio ancora dall'incontro delle due e dall'incontro con le altre menti (le altre vite).E così Daniel può mettersi a scrivere, perché alla fine ha davvero letto tutto questo.
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  • Tamara Agha-Jaffar
    January 1, 1970
    An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn is a combination of literary criticism of Homer’s Odyssey, a family memoir, and a travelogue. This is a unique and fascinating combination that Mendelsohn skillfully weaves together by transitioning seamlessly from one genre to another.The literary criticism occurs when Daniel Mendelsohn, a Classics professor, conducts a seminar on Homer’s Odyssey. He analyzes the text with his students, providing insights and interpretations that ill An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn is a combination of literary criticism of Homer’s Odyssey, a family memoir, and a travelogue. This is a unique and fascinating combination that Mendelsohn skillfully weaves together by transitioning seamlessly from one genre to another.The literary criticism occurs when Daniel Mendelsohn, a Classics professor, conducts a seminar on Homer’s Odyssey. He analyzes the text with his students, providing insights and interpretations that illuminate the text in rewarding ways. The family memoir occurs when Mendelsohn’s octogenarian father sits in on his seminar and contributes to the discussion and analysis. As a result of his father’s reactions to the Odyssey, Mendelsohn interrogates his own relationship with his father, one that had been fraught with tension, misunderstandings, and lack of communication during his formative years. The travelogue occurs when father and son go on a literary cruise that re-traces Odysseus’ return from Troy.Mendelsohn describes the structure of Homer’s Odyssey as a “ring composition” in which “elaborate circlings in space and time are mirrored” and where…the narrator will start to tell a story only to pause and loop back to some earlier moment that helps to explain an aspect of the story he’s telling—a bit of personal or family history, say—and afterward might even loop back to some earlier moment, thereafter gradually winding his way back to the present, the moment in the narrative that he left in order to provide all this background. Mendelsohn replicates this same ring structure in his work, looping backward and forward in time; weaving interpretations, highlighting details, and drawing connections within the poem; translating words from the Greek, providing their definitions, connotations, and context; and applying all of the above to significant events from his life that shed light on his relationship with his father. One of the most intriguing aspects of his discussion of the poem is the manner in which he interrogates Odysseus’ relationship with his son and his father, applying both to father/son relationships in general and to his relationship with his father in specific. This is as much an odyssey of Mendelsohn’s personal discovery of his father’s personality and behaviors as it is anything else.What emerges from this work is a sensitive portrayal of Mendelsohn’s father, a fascinating critique of Homer’s Odyssey with profound insights on the poem, and a travelogue describing the locations father and son visit as they pursue their own transformative odyssey.A fascinating and compelling work. Highly recommended for anyone with a pulse.
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  • Melora
    January 1, 1970
    Well, now I'm ready for a reread of The Odyssey! Mendelsohn's book, which successfully combines the genres of family memoir and literary criticism, is wonderfully engaging. Mendelsohn, a writer and professor of Classics at Bard College in New York, uses the story of how his father sat in on his “Classics 125: The Odyssey of Homer” seminar as a launching point for exploring family relationships, particularly the bonds between fathers and sons, with all their mysteries and complexities, both in hi Well, now I'm ready for a reread of The Odyssey! Mendelsohn's book, which successfully combines the genres of family memoir and literary criticism, is wonderfully engaging. Mendelsohn, a writer and professor of Classics at Bard College in New York, uses the story of how his father sat in on his “Classics 125: The Odyssey of Homer” seminar as a launching point for exploring family relationships, particularly the bonds between fathers and sons, with all their mysteries and complexities, both in his own life and in the classic epic they study together over the course of a semester. Early in his book Mendelsohn brings up the topic of “ring composition,” a literary device where an author uses flashbacks and flashforwards but always circles back to “present” events in the tale, and this device, introduced in reference to The Odyssey, allows him to examine with deepening understanding the life and motivations of the father he loves but has long regarded as cold and tough. Mendelsohn and his father follow up the spring course with a summer “literary cruise” around the sites made famous by Homer's epic, and that experience too offers him new perspectives on his father.Like I said, this made me want to reread the Odyssey, and that's saying something, as I've always agreed with Mendelsohn's dad in finding Odysseus is a hard guy to admire. He fails to bring his men home, he cheats on his wife, he's a braggart, etc. Mendelsohn's a skillful teacher, though, and he helped me see details, parallels, and connections in the work that I'd previously missed or not fully appreciated. While I still don't like Odysseus, Mendelsohn showed me that the poem is more concerned with the bonds between family members and profound in its insights in these matters than I'd previously appreciated.
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  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    Not THE Odyssey, but rather AN Odyssey, wrapped around THE Odyssey because the protagonist, Professor Daniel Mendelsohn, teaches a seminar on THE... (oh, you get the idea) and his 80-something year old father sits in on the class to play irascible golden guy.It's an odd pairing of lit crit on Homer mixed with memoir on another personal history with yet another tough dad (their numbers are legion). If you're thinking of reading or re-reading The Odyssey, or just recently read it, sitting in on Me Not THE Odyssey, but rather AN Odyssey, wrapped around THE Odyssey because the protagonist, Professor Daniel Mendelsohn, teaches a seminar on THE... (oh, you get the idea) and his 80-something year old father sits in on the class to play irascible golden guy.It's an odd pairing of lit crit on Homer mixed with memoir on another personal history with yet another tough dad (their numbers are legion). If you're thinking of reading or re-reading The Odyssey, or just recently read it, sitting in on Mendelsohn's Bard College class will only serve to make the experience richer. The book provides lots of insights on the inner workings, allusions, and symbolism in the epic.At the same time, in back-and-forth fashion before finally blending with Dad in the classroom, we get the story of a father and a son. TWO fathers and sones (Odysseus and Telemachus, plus Jay Mendelsohn and Dan). THREE fathers and sons, if you want to throw in Laertes and Odysseus, etc. Jay Mendelsohn is Old School (as fathers tend to be) and his son is... not. The gentle friction between the two lends the book its forward momentum. Father Jay cares little for Odysseus the Man, but that's because the Big O gets too much help from Athena and cheats on his wife while taking 10 years to get home from the Trojan War. Not up to standards, this Odysseus fellow. And, Daniel thinks, neither am I. Or is he? That's what we get here. Overall, high marks, though I can't say I was wild about the blow-by-blow rendering of the classroom. Mendelsohn is Old School in his way, too. He's one of these professors who asks questions with the answer already in mind, for the most part, and when he doesn't get what he wants, he keeps asking in different ways until he does.Nevertheless, I enjoyed the Classical insights because I'm getting to be Classical Era myself.
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    I simply loved this book, and Bronson Pinchot's narration was gentle and perfect. I am a former literature major who woke up to the joys of scholarship while studying the Odyssey in freshman seminar, I am going to Greece for the first time this summer with my late-70s parents, and like Mendelsohn, my relationship with my father has been very close, but not always very easy, so perhaps I was perfectly primed for this book. And indeed, I found the interweaving of memoir and literary exegesis entra I simply loved this book, and Bronson Pinchot's narration was gentle and perfect. I am a former literature major who woke up to the joys of scholarship while studying the Odyssey in freshman seminar, I am going to Greece for the first time this summer with my late-70s parents, and like Mendelsohn, my relationship with my father has been very close, but not always very easy, so perhaps I was perfectly primed for this book. And indeed, I found the interweaving of memoir and literary exegesis entrancing, and I wanted neither the Odyssey nor Mendelsohn's text to end. But I don't think you have to have a family trip to Greece on the horizon to have that connection to this Odyssey. The book is about the circle and cycle of life, about journeys and endings, and the sense of melancholy, love and loss is strong. And the construction is nearly seamless.So no, you don't have to be a classics scholar - just have parents, I think -- to connect to this story. The Mendelsohns, Daniel and Jay, will be much in my mind when I finally make it to Greece this summer. And I have been inspired to re-read the Odyssey (in the exciting new translation) as well.
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  • Lyn Elliott
    January 1, 1970
    I read this five months ago as part of my preparation for an exciting group read of Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey.As so often happens with books I deeply appreciate, I mean to re-read, take detailed notes and then write a considered review. And then, as also often happens, my reading and my life move on and I don’t get back to the book that gave me so much.When I finished Mendelssohn, I promised myself and GR that I would write a thoughtful, referenced review, and began the notin I read this five months ago as part of my preparation for an exciting group read of Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey.As so often happens with books I deeply appreciate, I mean to re-read, take detailed notes and then write a considered review. And then, as also often happens, my reading and my life move on and I don’t get back to the book that gave me so much.When I finished Mendelssohn, I promised myself and GR that I would write a thoughtful, referenced review, and began the noting process. But now it’s mid-June, and I’ve decided to just write what has stayed with me since the beginning of the year.I had not previously thought about the relationships between fathers and sons as a main theme in The Odyssey, but once it was pointed out, it is very clearly a plot driver. Mendelssohn cleverly interwove stories of his relationship with his own father with his ongoing class discussions of Odysseus and Telemachus, and was often very funny in describing their differences both in Daniel’s classes and outside them. The weekly classroom discussions of the poem could have been clunky, but instead threw up opportunities to explore different interpretations of the text, coming from widely divergent viewpoints. Where there were points of difference over the meaning of individual words or phrases, Mendelssohn gives us his own translations.The structure is similar to The Odyssey, as the different narratives intertwine, circling each other, shifting time frames.It’s written in an easily accessible style, a major achievement for a work based in such deep scholarship.
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  • Rebecca Foster
    January 1, 1970
    In the spring term of 2011, 81-year-old Jay Mendelsohn, a retired mathematician, sat in on his son’s Bard College undergraduate seminar on Homer’s Odyssey. They subsequently went on a “Retracing the Odyssey” cruise together. Again and again, epics like the Odyssey lend not just their structure but also their themes to Mendelsohn’s family story. Notions of heroism and masculinity are interrogated throughout. I suspect this will appeal more to classics buffs than to general readers. However, the q In the spring term of 2011, 81-year-old Jay Mendelsohn, a retired mathematician, sat in on his son’s Bard College undergraduate seminar on Homer’s Odyssey. They subsequently went on a “Retracing the Odyssey” cruise together. Again and again, epics like the Odyssey lend not just their structure but also their themes to Mendelsohn’s family story. Notions of heroism and masculinity are interrogated throughout. I suspect this will appeal more to classics buffs than to general readers. However, the quest, with its manifold aspects – to understand Homer’s epic in historical context, to rediscover its incidents in situ, and to reclaim a relationship before it’s too late – is affecting. Can one ever really know the whole of one’s parents’ story, Mendelsohn asks, given how much of a head start they’ve had on life? In this family memoir that plays around with classical literary forms and tropes, that’s the question that lingers.See my full review at Shiny New Books.
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  • Robert Case
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to "An Odyssey" while journeying home from a family holiday gathering. It was the ideal companion to my own 2-day road trip. On its face the book presents a detailed review of the archetypal hero's journey, told from the perspective of an aging Classics professor conducting a seminar with a classroom of aging teens, and his octogenarian father. The subject is Odysseus' epic return to his island kingdom and to three generations of family at the end of the Trojan War. These distinct bio I listened to "An Odyssey" while journeying home from a family holiday gathering. It was the ideal companion to my own 2-day road trip. On its face the book presents a detailed review of the archetypal hero's journey, told from the perspective of an aging Classics professor conducting a seminar with a classroom of aging teens, and his octogenarian father. The subject is Odysseus' epic return to his island kingdom and to three generations of family at the end of the Trojan War. These distinct biographies are skillfully interwoven by a compassionate author/teacher into a compelling narrative.This book is a seamless and compelling memoir that kept me alert and engaged during my own long drive home. I could not help but consider my own ties with father, siblings, and children. I found comfort and guidance in the similarities and shared experience. So, this reviewer highly recommends the book to anyone looking for a suggestion for an audio accompaniment to their next road trip. My one reservation with the audiobook is that the narration is rather flat and spiritless. Otherwise, the book comes highly recommended.
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  • Paul
    January 1, 1970
    Mendelsohn has been passionate about the classics, so much so that it is he teaches it at Bard College. One year his eighty-one-year-old father, Jay, decides that he will sign up and join the young people learning about this epic tale for the first time. Jay is a retired research scientist who was a maths expert but realises that this is his one last chance to discover about the great literature of the world, something that he didn’t do when he was being educated. So, begins an emotional adventu Mendelsohn has been passionate about the classics, so much so that it is he teaches it at Bard College. One year his eighty-one-year-old father, Jay, decides that he will sign up and join the young people learning about this epic tale for the first time. Jay is a retired research scientist who was a maths expert but realises that this is his one last chance to discover about the great literature of the world, something that he didn’t do when he was being educated. So, begins an emotional adventure that they both undertake, as they teach the students and learn about each others perception of the tale and Mendelsohn peers through the chinks in the armour to see the secrets that his dad has not spoken about all his life. This journey into the book inspires them to take a cruise around the Mediterranean where they visit the places mentioned in the book, and it gave Mendelsohn a collection of memories that he will treasure forever.It is a touching memoir of Jay Mendelsohn and Daniel Mendelsohn and their relationship that was straightforward and complex at the same time. As he works his way through the Odyssey, he draws parallels between that and his own life journey with his parents and his father in particular. He is open with his relationship that he has had with his father and takes time to be open and explain details as the discovery of things that were to clarify what made his father the way he was. One challenging part of the book was was that I have never read the Odyssey, so this book was a voyage of discovery in certain ways for me. It is a book that has never crossed my radar before but might give it a go one day. Worth reading for those that was a different take on a family memoir.
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  • Suzanne Arcand
    January 1, 1970
    What a fantastic book! What an original idea! The author taught an undergraduate seminar on the Odyssey and his Father aged eighty-one asked to sit on it. This story chronicles both the workshop, a trip based on the Odyssey that Daniel Mendelsohn took with his dad, and the relationship between father and son. The outcome is an immensely satisfying book that is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and beautifully written. He uses long sentences when he talks about the voyage and the Odyssey What a fantastic book! What an original idea! The author taught an undergraduate seminar on the Odyssey and his Father aged eighty-one asked to sit on it. This story chronicles both the workshop, a trip based on the Odyssey that Daniel Mendelsohn took with his dad, and the relationship between father and son. The outcome is an immensely satisfying book that is intellectually and emotionally stimulating and beautifully written. He uses long sentences when he talks about the voyage and the Odyssey. Short ones for the most important events: “… my father fell.” It’s most of all homage to his dad.The last sentence of the first paragraph of the first chapter summarizes the book in a nutshell. “… an epic about long journeys and long marriages and what it means to yearn for home.” It’s not only descriptive of the “Odyssey” and of “An Odyssey” but of life itself. Mendelsohn’s work holds a bountiful of pleasure so it’s hard to list them all:• Omer’s Odyssey which is the root saga from which all other stories seem to descend. • The author talking about the Greek origins of many words: “… kakos, ‘bad,’ which survives in the English ‘cacophony,’ a ‘bad sound’…” Who knew that “Mentor” is a character in “The Odyssey?” That “nostalgia” comes from “algos,” the pain associated with longing for home.” I would recommend this book to people who are interested in language—and which reader isn’t?• The philosophical musings which don't seem imposed or contrived but deeply felt: “But which is the true self? The Odyssey asks, and how many selves might a man have?” Or when he talks about the sensation of being lost: “… the feeling of what it’s like to be lost. Sometimes it’s as if you’re on familiar territory; sometimes you feel at sea, adrift in a featureless liquid void with no landmarks in sight. The opening of this poem about being lost and finding a way home precisely replicates the surf-like oscillations between drifting and purposefulness that characterize this hero’s journey.” And our own.• Discovering that I love reading but I'm not well acquainted with literature. I didn't know that they were such things as proem and ring composition, in which "the narrator will start to tell a story only to pause and loop back to some earlier moment that helps explain an aspect of the story he’s telling-a bit of personal or family history, say—and afterward might even loop back to some earlier moment or object or incident that will help account for that slightly less early moment, thereafter gradually winding his way back to the present, the moment in the narrative that he left in order to provide all this background.” This is exactly what Mendelsohn does here.• His parallel between the Odyssey and other masterpieces such as the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, by Pieter Brueghel.” (When you read “An Odyssey” do take the time to search it online.)• His immense talent for writing sentences that give epic dimensions to everyday life: “… elderly people whom we could faintly her, after we rang the doorbell, as they shuffled to answer the brown-painted steel doors, with their many clanking locks and the peepholes through which they would cautiously peer after we rang, one eye looming gigantically, comically, through the convex glass, like the single eye of some mythic monster.”• The Greek language itself, with its complicated grammar which is presented like a game of Lego.In the end the book is about the author’s father “… a son as well as a father,” his own Odyssey and that of the family. And we get the feeling from it that any individual story is an Odyssey and deserves to be told; that we are unique but not alone; that we come at the tail of a long history that can be traced to ancient times.I’m a jealous of people like Daniel Mendelsohn who are so knowledgeable and passionate on a particular subject. What luxury to study one text for weeks on end until they comprehend it intimately. It left me wondering. Should I read the Iliad? Could I read the Iliad? Does anyone have a good translation to suggest? Should I read Tennyson’s Ulysses? Or Cavafy’s Ithaque? One thigs is certain, I will certainly read more books by this author.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    As the subtitle suggests, this book is firstly about a particular father and son, Daniel Mendelsohn himself, and his 81-year-old ‘Daddy’, Jay. But it’s also about other father/son relationships including the fathers and sons at the heart of the Odyssey. That extraordinary book has survived at least two and a half millennia, and continues to speak strongly into people’s lives.Odysseus – whom Jay doesn’t consider a ‘hero’ - is both a son and a father: son to Laertes, and father of Telemachus, the As the subtitle suggests, this book is firstly about a particular father and son, Daniel Mendelsohn himself, and his 81-year-old ‘Daddy’, Jay. But it’s also about other father/son relationships including the fathers and sons at the heart of the Odyssey. That extraordinary book has survived at least two and a half millennia, and continues to speak strongly into people’s lives.Odysseus – whom Jay doesn’t consider a ‘hero’ - is both a son and a father: son to Laertes, and father of Telemachus, the boy he left behind as an infant. Twenty years later the two confront each other for the first time as adults. Telemachus is now a young man struggling to stand in his absentee father’s footsteps.The Odysseyis the subject of a course Daniel teaches at his University. Jay, a man who delights in learning, asks if he can sit in on the course. He intends only to observe, not participate. But observing quickly becomes involvement. As we follow through this course and see the book’s effect on the students and the two men, we’re not only given an understanding of the book, with its various interpretations and challenging viewpoints, but also of the relationship between the two Mendelsohns. Early on, Daniel tells us that the Odyssey uses a technique where, during the course of its telling, we’re given backstories that explain the narrative, and stories that explain the backstories. Flashbacks within flashbacks, as it were. The Odysseyis full of such stories, many of which reflect and comment on other stories within the overall frame. Some of the stories may be ‘true’; some plainly are not. Odysseus is a trickster and a fabricator of tall tales: when is he speaking plainly and when is he embellishing events? The two Mendelsohns experience at least two Odysseys. Firstly, working through the book together brings to light the fact that the stories Daniel ‘knows’ about his father aren’t necessarily ‘true.’ Other family members remember them differently. Some of Jay’s own versions of his history aren’t ‘true’ in the sense that Daniel wants truth. For the first time, perhaps, Daniel learns things of deep significance about his father, a man whom he’s often felt was unemotional and remote. After the course is finished a friend suggests the two go on a cruise that focuses on the places where the Odyssey is supposed to have taken place. This is their second Odyssey, and one that brings them closer than before. Daniel also learns that even though he’s the teacher, and has worked with the Odyssey for many years, he has to accept that other people’s interpretations may have validity, even those of some of his students. And some the students’ observations are deep enough to bring change to Daniel’s views about his father. This is a fascinating book. Daniel, being a teacher, tends to repeat things, perhaps to make sure we’ve heard and understood them. It’s a more helpful technique than it first appears: we encounter the Odyssey more effectively than we realise. The insights about father/son relationships are applicable to our own lives. And with Mendelsohn’s need to change his views – sometimes to his embarrassment – we see that his book is as much about his - and our – ability to change, as it is about the extraordinary book, the Odyssey.
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  • Marcus Hobson
    January 1, 1970
    Be entertained and be educated. This book is a delight, not just for the stories that it tells but also for the things that it teaches you.Daniel Mendelsohn is a classical scholar and a most entertaining writer. In this book he describes teaching a student course on Homer's Odyssey which his eighty-one year old father attends. His father, Jay, is not a fan of Odysseus. He thinks that he cries too much, sleeps with too many women and gets too much help from the gods. Father and son have much to l Be entertained and be educated. This book is a delight, not just for the stories that it tells but also for the things that it teaches you.Daniel Mendelsohn is a classical scholar and a most entertaining writer. In this book he describes teaching a student course on Homer's Odyssey which his eighty-one year old father attends. His father, Jay, is not a fan of Odysseus. He thinks that he cries too much, sleeps with too many women and gets too much help from the gods. Father and son have much to learn about the epic poem and about each other. Following the course, father and son also embark on a cruise, following in the Odyssey around the Aegean and Adriatic seas and stopping at some of the places named in the epic.The whole book is a wonderful journey of self discovery for all concerned and most for the author, who finally comes to understand more about his father and what made him the man he was. There are wonderful parallels between Homer's story, which features father and son who are also seeking to find each other.I love the parallels between the epic and real life, but also, being a lover of the Odyssey, learnt so much about the story and even about the Greek language which I do not speak at all. There are so many facts and interpretations that it is hard to keep track of them all, but they have certainly opened my eyes to different ways to read this work and the deeper meanings hidden within the stories.
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  • Robert Blumenthal
    January 1, 1970
    This is a most unusual memoir. It is actually several things: a father/son story, a personal memoir, an analysis of Homer's Odyssey. In fact, at the beginning, the analysis of the epic poem's proem section was a bit too in depth for my taste. However, the book became rather engrossing for me as the author relates his teaching of the students and the reactions of his young students and his elderly father to the Odyssey.Daniel Mendelson is a classics professor, as well as a writer of essays for su This is a most unusual memoir. It is actually several things: a father/son story, a personal memoir, an analysis of Homer's Odyssey. In fact, at the beginning, the analysis of the epic poem's proem section was a bit too in depth for my taste. However, the book became rather engrossing for me as the author relates his teaching of the students and the reactions of his young students and his elderly father to the Odyssey.Daniel Mendelson is a classics professor, as well as a writer of essays for such publications as The New Yorker. In 2012 he taught a seminar on The Odyssey which he allowed his 81-year-old father to sit in on. His father was a mathematician, rather unemotional and demanding on his family. He was never cruel, just emotionally distant. At the end of the seminar, Daniel and his father go on an Odyssey discovery cruise, which was very satisfying for them both.The author uses the themes of the Odyssey to explore his relationship to his father, both in the past and the present. There is obviously love there, though there is also quite a bit of resentment on the part of the son. I found it fascinating how he would use an example from The Odyssey to exhibit some archetype of the father/son relationship and relate it to his own experiences with his father. I would think that a love, or at least an appreciation, of the Odyssey would be required to really enjoy this book. I love The Odyssey and always have. I found some of the retelling of parts of the epic to be wonderful. I also really enjoyed the relationship between the students and Daniel's father. And the father's view of Odysseus, which was pretty low, was quite amusing and showed a lot about who he was and about his relationship to his children.As far as I'm concerned, anyone who writes regularly for The New Yorker is a very good or great writer and this is clearly shown in the writing of this memoir.
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  • Jon Stout
    January 1, 1970
    As a Classics professor, Daniel Mendelsohn taught a course on Homer’s Odyssey, and he invited his aging father to sit in on the course.  In his book, he took the opportunity to examine his own relationship with his father at the same time as he was discussing his students’ reaction to the epic poem.  I was struck by this because I too, years ago, had taught the Odyssey as part of a Literature of Western Civilization course, and I too had a special place in my heart for the father-and-son reunion As a Classics professor, Daniel Mendelsohn taught a course on Homer’s Odyssey, and he invited his aging father to sit in on the course.  In his book, he took the opportunity to examine his own relationship with his father at the same time as he was discussing his students’ reaction to the epic poem.  I was struck by this because I too, years ago, had taught the Odyssey as part of a Literature of Western Civilization course, and I too had a special place in my heart for the father-and-son reunion of Odysseus and his son Telemachus.Mendelsohn is a wonderful teacher, and I have to say that many of the insights that he conveyed were beyond what I was able to teach.  Nevertheless, I learned in my own teaching that I never learned a topic so well as when I had to prepare to teach it.  Mendelsohn had the students reacting to the first four chapters of the Odyssey, in which Odysseus’ son Telemachus tried to figure out what to do in the face of his father’s ten-year absence, and a crew of unruly suitors wooing his mother Penelope and trying to take over the realm.Mendelsohn also devoted considerable attention to Odysseus’ character, that of a bold trickster who was courageous yet canny, and who told fabulous stories with various degrees of connection to reality.  The students empathized well with Telemachus’ plight, and they had various degrees of skepticism with regard to Odysseus’ character.  Mendelsohn’s father, sitting in on the course, had a different reaction, questioning Telemachus’ inaction and indecision, and criticizing Odysseus’ lying and cheating.In this setting, Mendelsohn wove back and forth between discussing Telemachus’ situation and examining his own relationship with a sometimes demanding and opinionated father, whom he loved but did not completely understand.  In examining the epic with his students, Mendelsohn posed questions such as:  How do you recognize a father that you don’t know?  What are the signs of intimacy that identify someone who has evolved and changed?I found the father-son topic particularly moving, both on literary and on personal levels.  Mendelsohn did not completely understand his father, just as Telemachus knew Odysseus only by reputation.  There were ways in which the son was inspired by his father and at the same time frustrated by his father.  In coming to know the father, the son (both Telemachus and Mendelsohn) came to know something of what formed the father, as well as what caused the deficits in the relationship.  And the son also learned the signs of his father’s love.The book continued after the course was over, with Mendelsohn’s traveling, along with his father, on a cruise which retraced the locations in the Odyssey.  They developed new connections and rapport as they experienced the trip together.  The account proceeded to the bitter end, a year later, when his father died.  The end was particularly poignant, when his father’s last spoken word was a symbol of intimacy that tied together their life together as well the themes of the Odyssey.  I had tears in my eyes.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Daniel Mendelsohn, a Classics professor at Bard College, has written "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic", a book, a memoir, almost a dissertation on what seem to be two of his favorite subjects, family and classical literature. An earlier book, "The Lost: The Search for Six of the Six Million", covered the same subjects, but with a different orientation. Mendelsohn writes about a year in which he both taught a class at Bard College on "The Odyssey" and took a Greek island cruise which tra Daniel Mendelsohn, a Classics professor at Bard College, has written "An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic", a book, a memoir, almost a dissertation on what seem to be two of his favorite subjects, family and classical literature. An earlier book, "The Lost: The Search for Six of the Six Million", covered the same subjects, but with a different orientation. Mendelsohn writes about a year in which he both taught a class at Bard College on "The Odyssey" and took a Greek island cruise which traces Odysseus's 20 year journey. Although his seminar at Bard was for college students, he asked his early 80's father, Jay, to attend the seminar and to take the cruise with him. Daniel had been at odds with his father for years; Jay was famously a brilliant and taciturn man, married to his wife for over 60 years and was the father of five children. Daniel had long tried to understand his father and felt that Jay, with a long interest in the classics and Greek, might benefit from studying that father-son (and grandfather) epic, "The Odyssey" together.Many people have written memoirs about their parents. Most never quite make that final leap to understanding their father's actions, their mother's thoughts. As children we might know what our parents have done, but we usually don't know what they feel. Daniel Mendelsohn intersperses what happened in the family's past with passages from "The Odyssey". How Odysseus felt after not seeing his home, his wife, his father, and his son for twenty years can't exactly be paired with a man's life two thousand years later, but just the working through the passages of the epic with his father helped bring the two closer and helps Daniel understand - a bit - about his father.I am not a classicist. I've never read any of the epic poems Daniel Mendelsohn writes about in "An Odyssey". I enjoyed his previous book, "The Six" better, but then I am an armchair historian and have read a lot about the Holocaust. So, I was a bit in uncharted waters when I began reading "An Odyssey". But I had enjoyed Mendelsohn's references to classical studies in "The Six" - yes, he managed to combine personal history and the classics in that book, as well - and so I looked forward to reading his new book. I'd say I understood most of it but thoroughly enjoyed it.
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  • Pamela
    January 1, 1970
    I discovered this book through a review in the NYTimes. The excerpts quoted were hysterical and I loved the idea that the author's 81-year-old father would audit his son's seminar on the Odyssey. I could just imagine the situations and tensions that would produce. I thought it would turn out to be an amusing memoir and a nice way to spend several hours. I had no idea just how wonderful this story would turn out to be.Daniel Mendelsohn is a Classics professor, essayist, and critic. At 81, his fat I discovered this book through a review in the NYTimes. The excerpts quoted were hysterical and I loved the idea that the author's 81-year-old father would audit his son's seminar on the Odyssey. I could just imagine the situations and tensions that would produce. I thought it would turn out to be an amusing memoir and a nice way to spend several hours. I had no idea just how wonderful this story would turn out to be.Daniel Mendelsohn is a Classics professor, essayist, and critic. At 81, his father, Jay, decided to re-read the Odyssey as an adult and asked his son whether it would be alright with him if he "sat in" on his seminar. With misgivings, the son agreed and his father assured him he would not interrupt or talk, just listen and learn. That lasted - well it didn't last at all as Jay gave his opinion on Odysseus' heroic status during the first 15 minutes of the first class. He didn't think much of him. The first part of An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic is long. giving extensive background on both the father and the son. It goes into great detail and seems to take forever. It's almost boring. There is a reason for this and I won't spoil the reader's discovery by telling it here. We are anxious for the adventure to begin. The real heart of the story told here is the seminar itself and Mendelsohn's interaction with his father and his students as he teaches the age-old tale of Odysseus' adventures on the return from Troy and his longing for home. Since Jay takes an ever more active part in the seminar, the interactions between him and the 18-19-year-old students become an important aspect of this tale. At the end of the seminar, father and his son take a theme cruise following the trail of Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca.Through all of this, Professor Mendelson seamlessly weaves the Odyssey itself. Whether you read it in high school like Jay or you finished it yesterday, you will learn things about the poem that you never knew and in ways that you never thought of. From the epic voyage of Odysseus to his reunion with his son, wife and father emerges another tale, complete with voyage, of another father and son and their journey towards understanding.
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  • Joaquin Garza
    January 1, 1970
    Usualmente hablo del libro que me hizo lector. Pero casi nunca hablo del libro que ayudó a construir mi autoconcepto; el libro que me hizo entender para qué sirve una historia; el libro que me hizo fantasear por primera vez sobre lo que significa *ser* un héroe.Este libro es, por supuesto, la Odisea. Lo leí a los trece años, embelesado con la idea de que yo había recién vivido una odisea propia (para más señas: me había ido de campamento a Estados Unidos) y con este trasfondo quedaron grabadas e Usualmente hablo del libro que me hizo lector. Pero casi nunca hablo del libro que ayudó a construir mi autoconcepto; el libro que me hizo entender para qué sirve una historia; el libro que me hizo fantasear por primera vez sobre lo que significa *ser* un héroe.Este libro es, por supuesto, la Odisea. Lo leí a los trece años, embelesado con la idea de que yo había recién vivido una odisea propia (para más señas: me había ido de campamento a Estados Unidos) y con este trasfondo quedaron grabadas en mí las palabras que siempre voy a mantener inextricablemente unidas a lo que me hace feliz y a cómo quiero ser: memoria, historia, travesía, aventura... odisea.Este libro es muchas cosas: es una discusión técnica (pero muy accesible) sobre el poema; es una memoria sobre un hombre que busca desembrollar la historia de su propio padre y es una muy corta guía de viaje a ls lugares que los griegos asociaban con cada uno de los lados dondde Odiseo viviera sus peripecias.La manera en la que Mendelsohn decide estructurar el libro es empleando una narrativa concéntrica, similar a la de Homero. Le gusta ir y venir, hacer digresiones y profundizar en sus puntos acudiendo a otras partes de la historia.Y el centro de la misma es establecer paralelismos entre las relaciones de Odiseo con Laertes y Telémaco con la propia: creciendo con un padre seco y distante, profundamente estricto y poco emocional. Así, el autor asume el rol de Telémaco que busca descifrar quién es y qué le dice la vida y hazañas de su padre. El resultado es, por supuesto, altamente conmovedor e ilustrativo de los aspectos más reveladores de la obra que es, para mí, la piedra angular de la literatura occidental y también de mi propia historia.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Who can not think about their father while reading this book? The real Odyssey is the author’s quest to know his father. How fitting that the most epic story of sons and fathers is the template or background for their evolving relationship. So the grouchy old man with very high standards surprisingly reaches out to his son to learn more about the Odyssey by taking his son’s class on it. This could either be a train wreck or something very special. It was special and transformative for all concer Who can not think about their father while reading this book? The real Odyssey is the author’s quest to know his father. How fitting that the most epic story of sons and fathers is the template or background for their evolving relationship. So the grouchy old man with very high standards surprisingly reaches out to his son to learn more about the Odyssey by taking his son’s class on it. This could either be a train wreck or something very special. It was special and transformative for all concerned. Mendelsohn is one of those professors who might maintain he is open but he has many interpretations of the text from his years of teaching. He has seen everything. His students surprise him though with several theories he had never considered, prompting him to consult his mentor. You might consider his father the muse for all this stimulating intellectual activity. Plus it leads to more father son bonding when three months after class they go on a Mediterranean cruise retracing Odysseus’ journey.But sadly the son never truly learns all of his father’s secrets until after his death. Do any sons truly know their fathers? Lots of tender and poignant moments. And I learned what a proem is too. I envy the author for his experience with his father. I miss mine every day.
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  • Tuck
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite literary reviewer , that is Berger and john Leonard are dead and James wood is too cold blooded , so Mendelsohn it is. This memoir of author and his old father in their last times together, Daniel teaching class on odyssey, dad taking class, then dad and son going on an educational odyssey cruise, then dad suddenly dying. And the overarching story of homer and what it means to be a human and how we tells ourselves we are so.
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  • Camille
    January 1, 1970
    What a beautiful book! Not your typical memoir, lit crit, or travel piece--but a remarkable, complex, gorgeously written mash-up of all three genres that left me feeling immense gratitude to the author. Read this book!
  • Jennifer Louden
    January 1, 1970
    This is a brilliant, moving, cleverly - impeccably really - structured memoir. Please read this book.
  • James Murphy
    January 1, 1970
    The classicist Daniel Mendelsohn's An Odyssey is a beautiful memoir. On the surface it's his writing about his 81-year old father, Jay, sitting in on the undergraduate seminar in which he taught the Odyssey at Bard College. But, as the Odyssey he teaches, it's a book made up of many stories.First of all, a natural way of approaching his father's audit of the seminar is through the father/son relationship. Fathers and sons across the centuries united by the Odyssey is his primary theme. The 2 set The classicist Daniel Mendelsohn's An Odyssey is a beautiful memoir. On the surface it's his writing about his 81-year old father, Jay, sitting in on the undergraduate seminar in which he taught the Odyssey at Bard College. But, as the Odyssey he teaches, it's a book made up of many stories.First of all, a natural way of approaching his father's audit of the seminar is through the father/son relationship. Fathers and sons across the centuries united by the Odyssey is his primary theme. The 2 sets of fathers and sons--Odysseus/Telemachus, Jay/Daniel--are the cardinal points radiating from the heart of the book. In discussing the relationship of Telemachus to Odysseus, he's caught up in currents of memory which allow him to see Jay's paternal qualities and his own filial devotion as universal. As Telemachus searches for Odysseus in the Mediterranean, so does Daniel search for his father's true identity in the pages of his memoir. Identity becomes another way of telling the story. As Odysseus was skilled at disguise, so, too, we learn through Mendelsohn's telling, was Jay. And his search to learn the true nature of his father matches Telemachus's search for Odysseus in the Mediterranean.The story of the seminar is itself a wonderful gloss on the Odyssey. Mendelsohn details his seminar's discussion of the poem and how they tease out the significance of its many parts. I found this aspect of the book fascinating. I'd never read analysis of the poem, and I learned quite a bit about ways of looking into it and reading. I learned to connect dots I'd not known were there. Reading Mendelsohn will encourage you to pull Homer down from your shelf and read again.The central section of the book tells the story of the Odyssey cruise Mendelsohn and his father took the summer following the spring seminar. This travelogue tracing the cruise's itinerary through the Mediterranean visiting the locations of the poem--Troy to Ithaca--is another way of telling the poem's story, and another ingredient in the father/son theme. It's another correspondence, too, in a book made up of correspondences, odysseys within odysseys. Just as the cruise retraces Odysseus's original journey home, just as the seminar follows the poem chapter by chapter, just as Daniel's relationship with his father is seen in many ways to mirror that of Telemachus to his father, just as there is theme laid on theme, the structure of An Odyssey follows that of the Odyssey, its parts made up of Proem, Telemachy, Nostos, and so on.Finally, the book Mendelsohn wrote is an homage to the father he found on this epic seminar become cruise become search become meditation on the nature of fathers and sons. He finds that the frail Jay--teacher, mathematician, longtime Grumman employee, stay-at-home husband--who sat in the corner of his seminar room is as much hero as the bold Odysseus. Mendelsohn's Ithaca is that realization at the end of the voyage which began when his father sat in the first class.
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  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    Intertwining life and literature, Mendelsohn shows how reflective reading can still bring better understanding of the people in our lives. In a lovely paradox, the winding trip that Mendelsohn takes ultimately gets him back home. His polytropic memoir turns through the book, through the past, and through other perspectives to continually revise the way he understands his father and himself. The way the emails from Mendelsohn's students transform his perspective on what happened in the class was Intertwining life and literature, Mendelsohn shows how reflective reading can still bring better understanding of the people in our lives. In a lovely paradox, the winding trip that Mendelsohn takes ultimately gets him back home. His polytropic memoir turns through the book, through the past, and through other perspectives to continually revise the way he understands his father and himself. The way the emails from Mendelsohn's students transform his perspective on what happened in the class was especially moving. I also appreciated his thought-provoking take on teaching, how opening up to what the students have to say, even when it means apparently going off course, can be a significant learning experience, while, he also affirms the value of "reading everything," long study and reading and the guidance of mentors. Next time I read this I will take notes.
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  • Eric Boot
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars
  • Jatan
    January 1, 1970
    Jay Mendelsohn, the author's 80-odd year old father, decided to sit in on the undergraduate Odyssey seminar taught by his son, Daniel, at Bard in the spring of 2011. Ostensibly, it was to brush up on Greek mythology, an interest he had moved away from while pursuing a career as a mathematician and the role of father to 4 kids. At the end of that eventful semester, the father and son duo embarked on a cruise that retraced Odysseus's journey back home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, which, in a po Jay Mendelsohn, the author's 80-odd year old father, decided to sit in on the undergraduate Odyssey seminar taught by his son, Daniel, at Bard in the spring of 2011. Ostensibly, it was to brush up on Greek mythology, an interest he had moved away from while pursuing a career as a mathematician and the role of father to 4 kids. At the end of that eventful semester, the father and son duo embarked on a cruise that retraced Odysseus's journey back home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, which, in a poetic twist befitting Homer's epic, never made it to Ithaca due to a technical glitch.In An Odyssey, Daniel weaves the main themes from its Greek namesake: identity, love, marriage, fidelity, heroism, around these events to write a tender chronicle of his father's life and their relationship. Following the stylistic elements of the epic, the text is written in ring composition: a framing device often used in classical texts to provide more information regarding a character or an event through a digression from the primary narrative. A touching example in this book is when Daniel reflects on the different father figures he’s adopted as mentors over the years owing to embarrassment over his father's unsophisticated nature before telling us of Jay’s feelings about how Odysseus handled Telemachus’s reunion with Eumaeus, the swineherd: “Well, as you know, I’m not a big fan of Odysseus. But I have to say that this time, I was impressed by his self-control.[…] It must have been hard for him to have to sit there watching while his own son acted like the other guy was his real father.”The narrative is further enriched by Daniel's, a classics professor, remarks on the etymological origins of several names and literary devices, and asides on the formal aspects of the Greek epic (the book itself loosely follows the thematic elements of one). Particularly engaging for me were the vividness of the classroom discussions, where I felt like one of the students sitting around the table and often caught myself responding to a question posed to them. Admittedly, that could’ve been, in part, because I 'read' it as an audiobook.An Odyssey is a deeply moving, adroitly written memoir that that left a lump in my throat on several occasions. Here’s an invitation to the book.
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  • Andrew Marshall
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting combination of a literary criticism and a memoir. Mendelsohn is an American lecturer in the classics and his eighty-one year old father asked to sit in on his series of classes on Odyssey – which at it’s heart has a son, Telemachus (who in the first part of the Odyssey sets off to learn about his father who has been away at the Trojan wars for twenty years and feared dead), his father who is, of course, Odysseus, and Odysseus’ father, Laertes, who is still alive and therefore Odysseu Interesting combination of a literary criticism and a memoir. Mendelsohn is an American lecturer in the classics and his eighty-one year old father asked to sit in on his series of classes on Odyssey – which at it’s heart has a son, Telemachus (who in the first part of the Odyssey sets off to learn about his father who has been away at the Trojan wars for twenty years and feared dead), his father who is, of course, Odysseus, and Odysseus’ father, Laertes, who is still alive and therefore Odysseus is still a son too. Although Mendelsohn’s father, Jay, promises to sit at the back of the class and keep quiet, he is soon putting forward alternative readings of the text – much to the amusement of his son’s students who often agree more with father than son. From Jay’s response to the story and a Mediterranean cruise which Daniel and Jay undertake together, retracing Odysseus’ legendary voyages, Daniel begins to uncover long-buried secrets which helps him to understand his difficult father better.I found the story touching - OK I cried - illuminating about my relationship with my father and I think every man will find something rewarding. Although I was not as interested in the commentary of the Odyssey at the start, I found myself becoming more and more engrossed. So the book works on both levels. A real find.
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  • Liz Mc2
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the way Mendelsohn wove memoir--his relationship with his father, primarily--into his reading and teaching of The Odyssey. Both the themes (education, marriage, fathers and sons, journeys, aging) and the structure of Homer's epic are reflected here. I'm an English teacher, the daughter of a Classicist mother, and the child of aging, long-married parents, so this book is right up my alley and my rating reflects that, I'm sure. I especially loved the glimpses into the classroom and the epi I loved the way Mendelsohn wove memoir--his relationship with his father, primarily--into his reading and teaching of The Odyssey. Both the themes (education, marriage, fathers and sons, journeys, aging) and the structure of Homer's epic are reflected here. I'm an English teacher, the daughter of a Classicist mother, and the child of aging, long-married parents, so this book is right up my alley and my rating reflects that, I'm sure. I especially loved the glimpses into the classroom and the episode whether he considers whether he is leading his students too much and missing things in his drive to pass on what he learned from his mentors. After having to return the library book unread twice, I got the audiobook read by Bronson Pinchot (I cannot judge the quality of his Greek pronunciation but I enjoyed his narration). I can imagine listening to this again.
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  • John Pehle
    January 1, 1970
    Daniel Mendelsohn has written such a wonderful story here: an epic tale, a memoir, and a loving tribute to his father and his family. There are many moving moments that could (and, I admit, did) trigger a tear or two. The journey with Dan, Jay, Odysseus, and the others provided a doorway through which we might glimpse the frailty and heroism in all of us. Although I am far from a scholar in The Classics, the author's use of story telling techniques that echoed the Odyssey was particularly effect Daniel Mendelsohn has written such a wonderful story here: an epic tale, a memoir, and a loving tribute to his father and his family. There are many moving moments that could (and, I admit, did) trigger a tear or two. The journey with Dan, Jay, Odysseus, and the others provided a doorway through which we might glimpse the frailty and heroism in all of us. Although I am far from a scholar in The Classics, the author's use of story telling techniques that echoed the Odyssey was particularly effective and engaging. As the author implies in this book, any story can be heroic in the hands of the right story teller. Mendelsohn was the right story teller for this hero's journey.
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  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    Mendelsohn is a university lecturer and when his father began attending his classes, he took the opportunity to use Homer's work to reconnect with him. The author is an academic and this clearly shows in his writing. It's a little dry at times and I found I was more interested in his dissection of Homer than his stories of his father.
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