"The Unknown Odysseus" is a study of how Homer creates two
versions of his hero, one who is the triumphant protagonist of the
revenge plot and another, more subversive, anonymous figure whose
various personae exemplify an entirely different set of assumptions
about the world through which each hero moves and about the shape
and meaning of human life. Separating the two perspectives allows
us to see more clearly how the poem's dual focus can begin to
explain some of the notorious difficulties readers have encountered
in thinking about the "Odyssey." In "The Unknown Odysseus," Thomas
Van Nortwick offers the most complete exploration to date of the
implications of Odysseus' divided nature, showing how it allows
Homer to explore the riddles of human identity in a profound way
that is not usually recognized by studies focusing on only one
"real" hero in the narrative. This new perspective on the epic
enriches the world of the poem in a way that will interest both
general readers and classical scholars.." . .an elegant and lucid
critical study that is also a good introduction to the poem."
---David Quint, "London Review of Books"
"Thomas Van Nortwick's eloquently written book will give the
neophyte a clear interpretive path through the epic while reminding
experienced readers why they should still care about the
"Odyssey"'s unresolved interpretive cruces. "The Unknown Odysseus"
is not merely accessible, but a true pleasure to read."
---Lillian Doherty, University of Maryland
"Contributing to an important new perspective on understanding
the epic, Thomas Van Nortwick wishes to resist the dominant, even
imperial narrative that tries so hard to trick, beguile, and even
bully its listeners into accepting the inevitability of Odysseus'
---Victoria Pedrick, Georgetown University
Thomas Van Nortwick is Nathan A. Greenberg Professor of Classics
at Oberlin College and author of "Somewhere I Have Never Travelled:
The Second Self and the Hero's Journey in Ancient Epic" (1992) and
"Oedipus: The Meaning of a Masculine Life" (1998).
Jacket art: Head of Odysseus from a sculptural group
representing Odysseus killing Polyphemus in the Museo Archeologico
Nazionale in Sperlonga, Italy. Photograph by Marie-Lan Nguyen.
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