The Return of Ulysses
A Cultural History of Homer's Odyssey
By Edith Hall
(Johns Hopkins University Press, Hardcover, 9780801888694, 296pp.)
Publication Date: May 2008
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This broadly conceived and enlightening look at how Homer's "Odyssey" has resonated in the West offers a thematic analysis of the poem's impact on social and political ideas, institutions, and mores from the ancient world through the present day.
Proving that the epic poem is timeless, Edith Hall identifies fifteen key themes in the "Odyssey" and uses them to illustrate the extensive and diverse effect that Homer's work has had on all manner of inquiry, expression, and art. She traces the text's pervasive thread of influence from the tragedies of classical Athens and the burlesque of Aristophanes to its contemporary artistic reinterpretations in literature, theatre, opera, popular music, film, and science fiction. In considering the mark of the "Odyssey" on the modern global world, Hall looks at how the poem affected colonialism and the frontier mentality in the American West, how it engendered contemporary attitudes toward sex, death, war, philosophy, violence, and race, and the ways in which the "Odyssey" forms the backbone of modern-day psychology.
Accessibly written and timely, "The Return of Ulysses" establishes the "Odyssey" as "the" founding text of Western Civilization and offers a major contribution to the study of Homer's epic poem, as well as modern insight into its cultural reception and continuing imprint on society.