The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘The Iliad’

Hey, I Got You This Meaningless First Edition, and Other News

February 19, 2015 | by


From The Boy Next Door.

  • Feeling anxious? Depressed? Full of foreboding? Use fiction to overmaster your fears, and experience instant results. “In my books I get to create anxiety on my own terms. I can moderate fear and pass it on to other people. This creative, oddly communal form of anxiety feels very different from the kind I have in the back of my mind always—the fear about what will happen to my sight. There is something delicious—that’s the only word I can use to describe it—about recreating apprehension on the page.”
  • Jennifer Lopez’s terrible new movie The Boy Next Door has inspired a misguided quest for first editions of the Iliad. “Lopez plays a divorced English literature high school teacher who has a one-night stand with her younger neighbor played by Ryan Guzman. In one scene, Guzman’s character gives Lopez a copy of The Iliad, which is described as a ‘first edition’ and apparently found for ‘a buck at a garage sale.’ ” Problems: no one knows for certain when the Iliad was even written. It was passed down by oral tradition first. It’s at least three thousand years old. It wasn’t composed in English for first publication in a handsome hardcover.
  • On André Brink, a South African novelist who died last week: “Brink could write in a blocky, slightly cumbersome way, and some of his overlong later novels needed more editing. But the combination of his moral vision, psychological acuity, and insistent narrative force puts him, in my mind at least, in the company of Theodore Dreiser and Russell Banks.”
  • I’m not sure if Victoria Sambunaris’s pictures amount to “a photographer’s version of the Great American Novel,” as the headline says they do—but they’re an affecting record of an American phenomenon: “the recurring sprawl of massive development and junctures where nature meets culture unexpectedly and surprisingly sublimely.”
  • Supposedly, we’ve entered a new golden age for television, and for architecture, and some might say even journalism—what about art? “This is how we know precisely that we’re not in any Golden Age for visual art: There’s the spectacle of obsessive, laser-like bidding on lonely, singular canvasses by the few, but no broadly shared delight and conversation. ‘Excess of excellence’ or ‘intellectual credibility’ wouldn’t exactly be the first words from anyone in Contemporary art describing their own field, much less Miami art fairs.”


Dating the Iliad, and Other News

March 1, 2013 | by


  • Geneticists estimate that the Iliad was written in 762 B.C., “give or take fifty years.” This squares with what classicists believe, too.
  • Barnes & Noble says that rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated.
  • Today in fearless luxury, these bespoke bindings are very beautiful.
  • And speaking of books as status symbols: the book in medieval portraiture.
  • The critics have spoken! The winners of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle awards are: Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (fiction);  Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree (nonfiction); Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (autobiography);  Marina Warner, Stranger Magic (criticism); Robert Caro, The Passage of Power (biography); and D. A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (poetry).



The Iliad, Improved: An Illustrated Panorama

August 23, 2012 | by

These panels tell the story of Ajax, as related in the Iliad and by Sophocles. I’d originally intended to treat the story without embellishment but just couldn’t allow poor Ajax to fall on his own sword at the end. Homer’s world is populated with people driven by mad and almost childlike uncontrollable passions. They did not reflect deeply on their actions. When I think social media has just about driven me bonkers and start lamenting modern times, I need only consider the senseless, sensation-drunk world of the Iliad and Odyssey to realize that every age on record has been frantically moving toward self-destruction.

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Conrad Signals, Server Signs

August 10, 2012 | by


  • Because it is Friday, a Joseph Conrad bat signal.
  • A pair of Irish researchers have determined that Homer’s epics are (partially) based in fact. “We’re not saying that this or that actually happened, or even that the individual people portrayed in the stories are real ... We are saying that the overall society (that emerges from the stories) and interactions between characters seem realistic.”
  • The son of John Steinbeck has publicly objected to the invocation of Of Mice and Men to justify the Texas execution of a mentally handicapped man.
  • Celebrate Julia Child’s centenary with these ten titles.
  • If you  wish to rakishly mix your media, here is how to make a screen saver from your favorite book cover.
  • The secret language of restaurants; or, how your waiter knows who gets what.
  • And how did you celebrate Book Lover’s Day?