March 21, 2010

Ransom - David Malouf

Ransom by Australian author David Malouf is a re-telling of the epic story, The Iliad. As you can tell from the photo above I do own a beautiful copy of The Iliad which I bought quite a while ago now after deciding to participate in my own classics reading challenge inspired by the book Classics by Jane Gleeson-White. Needless to say my challenge sort of fell by the wayside - which is why I was glad that I came across Ransom - a book to make the classic it is based on more accessible I thought.
Malouf's telling of the original story of Troy is moving, compassionate and interesting - it has a modern twist in terms of the storytelling style but I think it still plants the reader firmly in the world in which it is based. I really enjoyed it - it was quick to read and yet there was nothing superficial or fluffy about it at all. I am now wondering if I should give the original Iliad a go??? What do people think? Has anyone read The Iliad and lived to tell the tale?


Elise said...

I am interested that you posted this as I was thinking about the Iliad today and how I kind of want to read it but that I really don't and was wondering how I could read it without reading it. This may in fact be the solution! My sister read a David Malouf book in high school and still cringes when she sees his section in a book store and I subsequently have never read one of his. Now I wonder if Ransom falls under the category of mythology and I could therefore read it in the Once Upon A Time Challenge? I might just give this a go.


Unknown said...

I have read The Illiad. I read it back when I was an undergrad. We had a wonderful classics teacher who somehow got everyone interested in reading Homer and Virgil. Her class was packed, people sitting on the floor and standing against the wall ready and anxious to have their say about The Illiad.

My advice is to always go with the most recent translation. I think there is a new one out there.

Sarah said...

Like yourself Karen, I found reading The Iliad a daunting prospect. When I actually did it (inspired by this interview with translator Stanley Lombardo)I was suprised by how engrossing it was.

I still haven't read Ransom, but have it the the TBR pile so am glad to hear it's good. Malouf is a favourite of mine, so I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I get to it.

Kate said...

Malouf is one of my favourite writers. His early "An Imaginary Life" is the (imaginary!) story of the Roman poet Ovid in exile. The prose is simple but beautiful verging on the poetic. You might enjoy it. His poetry is also well worth reading. "Typewriter Music" is my favourite. I had the pleasure of hearing him discuss "Ransom" at a breakfast at the Australian National Library last year - a rare intellectual able to cut to the emotional truth.

claire said...

Karen, I also just purchased that same copy of The Iliad and The Odyssey! :D Haven't read it yet but of all the excerpts I've read, the Robert Fagles translation seems to be the best one.

Karen said...

Hi Elise - I think I would have a better chance of reading it now having some basic understanding of the story but I'm still not sure how I would go - it is huge!! I think this would make a great book for that challenge - I wish I had thought of it!!

Hi C.B. James - A wonderful and inspiring teacher always makes for the best learning - I think I could be taught almost anything if the teacher was great.

Hi Sarah - if you are a fan of Malouf I hope you will enjoy this one. I haven't read any of his other work so I can't say if it is typical of his writing or not. Glad to hear you survived the Iliad reading!

Hi Kate - it would have been great to hear him speak - I can imgaine he is a verfy interesting speaker.

Hi Claire - I might hold back and see what you think of it before diving in myself!

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Penelope Sanchez said...

I read it essentially in one "sitting," on long flights from San Francisco to Europe. Read it and enjoy. It's a winner.

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