A Cruel Man Delighting in Flowers

...the mildness to which men ... had yielded was only half of the intoxication of beauty, while the other half ... was of such surpassing and terrible cruelty—the most cruel of men delights himself with a flower—that beauty ... failed quickly of its effect... 

Hermann BrochThe Death of Virgil

 

Jeremy Davies is made of ink, but don’t dip a feather in him. It tickles. He once painted a fingernail black and no one really noticed. He was disappointed. He’s also an editor, a religious atheist, a liker of strong coffees, a Shakespeare-lover, a political anarchist and someone who rarely has a pen when he needs one. He has been a PhD candidate, a personal trainer, a life model, a bouncer, an infantry soldier and someone who rarely had a pen when he needed one. He has had words published in a variety of places, in a variety of publications, in a variety of forms, in a variety of moments: Canada, Wet Ink, SMS and twelve minutes past three in the afternoon being some of these. His first novel, 'Missing Presumed Undead', will be re-published by Satalyte Publishing in February 2014. A second is on its way.

The Odyssey - Homer, Robert Fagles, Bernard Knox Considering the distance between the modern reader and Homer, Fagles’ translation of Homer’s Odyssey is a very accessible easy-read adventure tale, that ay be light on direct action for some, but has definite narrative energy through its framed story-telling.

There is historical and cultural interest on a theory level, particularly in the often repeated oral-story-telling devices: when Odysseus is stressing about the occupants of a new unknown island he’s about to land on, for example, and is wondering if the occupants will be friendly or not, human or monster, the ‘eating of bread’ is a feature, placing the ability to produce bread as an intrinsically social and humanistic act: that those groups of people that are capable of this act are the kind that will also be moral and caring.

This is obviously a canonical work of literature, an example of how we began to understand ourselves and think ourselves into the human condition that we enjoy today, so much can be said about it on this level, and has been many times, including in the excellent introduction of this translation by.

Suffice to say, I enjoyed it on a number of levels, including purely its existence as a story, and its characters and how Homer, with maybe help form Fagles (I can’t read Ancient Greek), played with Odysseus ironically, like when the King and husband is telling of his time with Calypso, how he was stuck on this island paradise with a nymph whose beauty made Hermes weep, and forced to sleep with her every night, but yet he spent all day crying his grief on the shores of the island, beating his chest with outrage… on this island he was so firmly imprisoned upon that he could only leave when Calypso told him: ‘Hey, why don’t you just chop down some wood and build a raft, man?’

Currently reading

Lyrical and Critical Essays
Albert Camus
The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
Harold Bloom
The Rebel (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Albert Camus