Daniel Mendelsohn: An Odyssey A Father a Son and an Epic

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I read this five months ago as art of my reparation for an exciting group read of Emily Wilson s new translation of The OdysseyAs so often happens with books I deeply appreciate I mean to re read take detailed notes and then write a considered review And then as also often happens my reading and my life move on and I don t get back to the book that gave me so muchWhen I finished Mendelssohn I romised myself and GR that I would write a thoughtful referenced review and began the noting The True Story of the Bilderberg Group process But now it s mid June and I ve decided to just write what has stayed with me since the beginning of the yearI had notreviously thought about the relationships between fathers and sons as a main theme in The Odyssey but once it was When I Grow Up (Tales From Foster High, pointed out it is very clearly alot driver Mendelssohn cleverly interwove stories of his relationship with his own father with his ongoing class discussions of Odysseus and Telemachus and was often very funny in describing their differences both in Daniel s classes and outside them The weekly classroom discussions of the Arachne poem could have been clunky but instead threw up opportunities to explore different interpretations of the text coming from widely divergent viewpoints Where there wereoints of difference over the meaning of individual words or Rock Lead Basics phrases Mendelssohn gives us his own translationsThe structure is similar to The Odyssey as the different narratives intertwine circling each other shifting time framesIt s written in an easily accessible style a major achievement for a work based in such deep scholarship Well now I m ready for a reread of The Odyssey Mendelsohn s book which successfully combines the genres of family memoir and literary criticism is wonderfully engaging Mendelsohn a writer androfessor of Classics at Bard College in New York uses the story of how his father sat in on his Classics 125 The Odyssey of Homer seminar as a launching Lightning Over Bennett Ranch point for exploring family relationshipsarticularly the bonds between fathers and sons with all their mysteries and complexities both in his own life and in the classic epic they study together over the course of a semester Early in his book Mendelsohn brings up the topic of ring composition a literary device where an author uses flashbacks and flashforwards but always circles back to Sri Sumarah, Pariyem dan Bu Bei present events in the tale and this device introduced in reference to The Odyssey allows him to examine with deepening understanding the life and motivations of the father he loves but has long regarded as cold and tough Mendelsohn and his father follow up the spring course with a summer literary cruise around the sites made famous by Homer s epic and that experience too offers him newerspectives on his fatherLike I said this made me want to reread the Odyssey and that s saying something as I ve always agreed with Mendelsohn s dad in finding Odysseus is a hard guy to admire He fails to bring his men home he cheats on his wife he s a braggart etc Mendelsohn s a skillful teacher though and he helped me see details Class Struggles parallels and connections in the work that I dreviously missed or not fully appreciated While I still don t like Odysseus Mendelsohn showed me that the Wilfred Owen (Routledge Revivals) poem is concerned with the bonds between family members androfound in its insights in these matters than I d Study to Teach previously appreciated I saw an interview with Daniel Mendelsohn about his new book An Odyssey A Father A Son and an Epic and thought it sounded intriguing This book is a memoir but in many ways it is three stories intertwined The authorrovided a summary of The Odyssey along with his account of the class he teaches at Bard College and the relationship with his father and how he and his father interacted with the students when his father decided to audit the classThe book is well written but meanders a bit Jay Mendelsohn is a retired research scientist and mathematician At age 82 he decided to monitor his son s class about The Odyssey He challenged his son throughout the class At the end of course Daniel takes Jay on an Odyssey cruise on the Mediterranean I found the interaction between Daniel Jay and the class most interesting Overall this is a most delightful book If you are looking for a good summer read this might be your choiceI read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible The book is ten hours and thirty seven minutes Bronson Pinchot does a good job narrating the book Pinchot is an actor and an Audie Award winning narrator This is my first experience with the author and narrator I simply loved this book and Bronson Pinchot s narration was gentle and Global Corporations in Global Governance perfect I am a former literature major who woke up to the joys of scholarship while studying the Odyssey in freshman seminar I am going to Greece for the first time this summer with my late 70sarents and like Mendelsohn my relationship with my father has been very close but not always very easy so Angels in Harmony perhaps I waserfectly rimed for this book And indeed I found the interweaving of memoir and literary exegesis entrancing and I wanted neither the Odyssey nor Mendelsohn s text to end But I don t think you have to have a family trip to Greece on the horizon to have that connection to this Odyssey The book is about the circle and cycle of life about journeys and endings and the sense of melancholy love and loss is strong And the construction is nearly seamlessSo no you don t have to be a classics scholar just have arents I think to connect to this story The Mendelsohns Daniel and Jay will be much in my mind when I finally make it to Greece this summer And I have been inspired to re read the Odyssey in the exciting new translation as well Like father Like Son A few months ago I read Philip Roth s Patrimony an endearing diary report of his father s last year and a very refined exploration of the special bond that always exists between father and son Mendelsohn s book is also autobiographical and like Roth it is a developmental novel gradually the relationship of the son to the father developed starting from the classic emotional trio of awe fear and shame ending in wonder downright admiration and respect Like Roth Mendelsohn discovers all sorts of unsuspected aspects in his father s Autumn Brides personality without ever fully comprehending him a son can never fully understand his father because the father has gone before him the father has always lived so much than the son so that the son can never catch up never know everything The special thing about Mendelsohn s book is that he takes the ancient Greek epic of the Odyssey as a guide That is not surprising when you know that Mendelsohn is a teacher of ancient literature in real life And also that the Odyssey is not only the story of a man Odysseus and his wife Penelope but also of that man and his son Telemachos The nice thing is that at the age of 81 his father suddenly came to attend his son s lessons on the. When eighty one year old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College the two find themselves on an adventure asrofoundly emotional as it is intellectual For Jay a retired research scientist this return to the classroom is his one last chance to.

Odyssey at the university and unabashedly commented to the delight of the students Unfortunately it would also be the last year his father come to live just like Roth sIn the book Mendelsohn follows the structure of the Odyssey and constantly alternates between a rather technical but very interesting discussion of the story itself his treatment of this in the seminars with his students his discussions with his father about the story and their shared experiences during a cruise on the Mediterranean Sea in the trail of Odysseus Thus an alternation of seriousness and fancy which really works well And the most interesting thing is that you regularly see Daniel Mendelsohn surprised every time he gets to know a new aspect of his father and relates it to the ancient Greek story It s a beautiful interaction and a remarkable variation on the classic theme of the Bildungsroman In other words Mendelsohn cleverly managed to write an interesting and endearing novel about a father son relationship or rather the other way round but at the same time it offers a great illustration of the ower of classical literature Magnificent 35 stars An Odyssey A Father a Son and an Epic is an immensely satisfying and deeply moving memoir of a son s search for his father The author Daniel Mendelsohn is a Classics Professor at Bard College in New York In the Spring semester 2011 Mendelsohn s 81 year old father Jay a retired research scientist and Mathematics rofessor asked to audit his undergraduate semester on the Odyssey Now that struck me as a daunting roposition For sixteen weeks therefore from January to May Jay came to class and articipated in discussion with a bunch of undergraduatesJay said he was not going to talk in class but in the very first class he challenged the view that Odysseus was a hero Odysseus was not a real hero because he s a liar and he cheated on his wife He also lost all his men and all twelve ship What kind of leader loses all his men You call that a hero Oh this was fun for me to read but a nightmare for Mendelsohn His reaction however was Sticky Church priceless Yep I said a little defiantly I felt like I was eleven years old again and Odysseus was a naughty schoolmate whom I d decided I was going to stand by even if it meant beingunished along with him I remembered little of the Odyssey What I remembered better was the oem Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson which I loved It offered a glimpse of Odysseus life after he returned home to Ithaca I trooped along with Jay to class and relished this opportunity to be taught by a Classics scholar extraordinaire Book by book Mendelsohn had his students and me enthralled with Homer s literary magic I appreciated his systematic approach to the epic oem beginning with an exposition on the etymology of words voyage vacation travel The Odyssey I learned is a nostos narrative nostos means Homecoming It is combined with another Greek word algos which means Witches of the Deep South pain Hence theain associated with longing for home is nostalgia Mendelsohn also introduced the ring composition a narrative techniue in Greek literature that wove the Metro 2033 (Universo Metro) present and theast together which mirrored the elaborate circling in space and time in the Odyssey He drew attention to the long six beat oom Christianity pahah meter also known as the dactylic hexameter in Homer s twelve thousand one hundred and ten lines If the reader did not mind some deviation from the memoir it was all extremely fascinating and rewarding Mendelssohn Run for Your Life (Michael Bennett, provided an absolutely gorgeous analysis of the Odyssey ahenomenal literary criticism It was a veritable treat to sit in this seminarLike all good teachers do Mendelsohn asked searching uestions that directed attention to the themes in Homer s Alice-Miranda at Camp poem Do heroes cry What might a heroism of survival look like What makes a good marriage Why did Odysseus choose mortal Penelope and not the goddess Calypso How does one recognize someone after one can no longer rely onhysical appearance When the exterior the face and body have changed beyond recognition what remains Is there an inner I that survives time What is the difference between who we are and what others know about us These uestions generated lively discussion in class It was fascinating watching the young undergraduates sparring with an elderly man who could have been their grandfather and even fascinating to observe the mutual respect and admiration that developed between them In essence the Odyssey is a homecoming story of a child going in search of an absent father and starting to learn about him and the world It is a homecoming story It is the story of Telemachus education This memoir is the story of Mendelsohn s education Like Telemachus Mendelsohn came to know who his father really was From childhood until his mid twenties Mendelsohn only knew his father to be a hard man for whom the value of a The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (Penguin Press Science) (English Edition) pursuit resided in the amount ofainful exertion it demanded Mendelsohn admitted I felt that if I devoted myself to a career whose training was The Association of Small Bombs painful my father might approve of it I thought it wonderful that at the end of this seminar Mendelsohn and his father went on a Mediterranean cruise Retracing the Odyssey On the cruise Mendelsohn had many opportunities to get acuainted with the softer side of his father At cocktail hour Jay sang and charmed the crew on board ship There were tender moments of revelation that were heartwarming On one occasion Mendelsohn reflected I suddenly realized this was who he was a lovely old man filled with charming tales about the thirties and forties the era to which the music tinkling out of theiano belonged an era of cleverness and confidence and sass It was as if he were the Great American Songbook A spasm of emotion courses through me something Wilderness Survival Handbook primitive childish This father son odyssey wasarticularly oignant as unbeknownst to them it was their last educational journey togetherI will close with Mendelsohn s uote on teaching which he exemplified in his seminar class It was from Fred that I understood that beauty and leasure are at the center of teaching For the best teacher is the one who wants you to find meaning in the things that have given him Visit the Sick pleasure too so that the appreciation of their beauty will outlive him In this way because it arises from an acceptance of the inevitability of death good teaching is like goodarenting I recognize that a book like this is not for everyone However if you enjoy the classics then this may just be your cup of tea Mendelsohn said of the Odyssey that it is scathingly brilliant I can confidently say this of his memoir too Thank you Professor Mendelsohn Stealth literary criticism Part classics course Carry Me Over the Threshold part father son memoirart travelogue Doctor Mendelsohn s is clearly the voice of a Professor of Classics There s no smoothly swirling Rothian rose here The rigor of his voice may be explained as we learn. Learn the great literature he'd neglected in his youth and even a final opportunity to fully understand his son a writer and classicist But through the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer's great work together first in the classroom where Jay ersistently challenges his son's in.

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About his austere father who believed nothing worth doing should be easy Might that include the writing or reading of this moving memoir The father Jay takes his son s Odyssey seminar at Bard College one spring Then the two take a 10 day tour on a small Not THE Odyssey but rather AN Odyssey wrapped around THE Odyssey because the rotagonist Professor Daniel Mendelsohn teaches a seminar on THE oh you get the idea and his 80 something year old father sits in on the class to lay irascible golden guyIt s an odd Small Talk pairing of lit crit on Homer mixed with memoir on anotherersonal history with yet another tough dad their numbers are legion If you re thinking of reading or re reading The Odyssey or just recently read it sitting in on Mendelsohn s Bard College class will only serve to make the experience richer The book rovides lots of insights on the inner workings allusions and symbolism in the epicAt the same time in back and forth fashion before finally blending with Dad in the classroom we get the story of a father and a son TWO fathers and sones Odysseus and Telemachus lus Jay Mendelsohn and Dan THREE fathers and sons if you want to throw in Laertes and Odysseus etc Jay Mendelsohn is Old School as fathers tend to be and his son is not The gentle friction between the two lends the book its forward momentum Father Jay cares little for Odysseus the Man but that s because the Big O gets too much help from Athena and cheats on his wife while taking 10 years to get home from the Trojan War Not up to standards this Odysseus fellow And Daniel thinks neither am I Or is he That s what we get here Overall high marks though I can t say I was wild about the blow by blow rendering of the classroom Mendelsohn is Old School in his way too He s one of these rofessors who asks uestions with the answer already in mind for the most art and when he doesn t get what he wants he keeps asking in different ways until he doesNevertheless I enjoyed the Classical insights because I m getting to be Classical Era myself An Odyssey A Father a Son and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn is a combination of literary criticism of Homer s Odyssey a family memoir and a travelogue This is a uniue and fascinating combination that Mendelsohn skillfully weaves together by transitioning seamlessly from one genre to anotherThe literary criticism occurs when Daniel Mendelsohn a Classics Light Thickens (Roderick Alleyn, professor conducts a seminar on Homer s Odyssey He analyzes the text with his studentsroviding insights and interpretations that illuminate the text in rewarding ways The family memoir occurs when Mendelsohn s octogenarian father sits in on his seminar and contributes to the discussion and analysis As a result of his father s reactions to the Odyssey Mendelsohn interrogates his own relationship with his father one that had been fraught with tension misunderstandings and lack of communication during his formative years The travelogue occurs when father and son go on a literary cruise that re traces Odysseus return from TroyMendelsohn describes the structure of Homer s Odyssey as a ring composition in which elaborate circlings in space and time are mirrored and where the narrator will start to tell a story only to A Multi-Site Church Roadtrip pause and loop back to some earlier moment that helps to explain an aspect of the story he s telling a bit ofersonal or family history say and afterward might even loop back to some earlier moment thereafter gradually winding his way back to the Magic Dreams (Kate Daniels, present the moment in the narrative that he left in order torovide all this background Mendelsohn replicates this same ring structure in his work looping backward and forward in time weaving interpretations highlighting details and drawing connections within the The End of Intelligent Writing poem translating words from the Greekroviding their definitions connotations and context and applying all of the above to significant events from his life that shed light on his relationship with his father One of the most intriguing aspects of his discussion of the Introduction to Orthotics poem is the manner in which he interrogates Odysseus relationship with his son and his father applying both to fatherson relationships in general and to his relationship with his father in specific This is as much an odyssey of Mendelsohn sersonal discovery of his father s I-O personality and behaviors as it is anything elseWhat emerges from this work is a sensitiveortrayal of Mendelsohn s father a fascinating critiue of Homer s Odyssey with டணாயக்கன் கோட்டை [Danaayakkan Kottai] profound insights on theoem and a travelogue describing the locations father and son visit as they Understanding Central Asia pursue their own transformative odysseyA fascinating and compelling work Highly recommended for anyone with aulse I can t imagine that classics rofessor Daniel Mendelsohn imagined having his father join his class on Homer s Odyssey would have had uite the impact it did on him his students or on those of us reading this memoirlit crit Tackling and untangling the themes of the classic oem especially the threads of fatherson relations within this unusual class set up allowed for an unconventional yet entirely apropos and moving exploration of his own family dynamic Critical evaluations of books of The Odyssey link to the author s recollections and musings about childhood marriage education and death all themselves important aspects of the Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy poem s narrative Everything is intensely intertwined reflecting and building the connections between ancient and modern worlds Even the very structure of the book harks back to the Homeric means of storytelling the interweaving ofast Relatos inconfesables de un monje present and future toresent a multilayered episodic and The Gentleman Mentor (Lessons with the Dom, purposeful text that has life lessons at its heart At the end there s significant self reflection Like both Odysseus and Telemachus in theoem it is clear Daniel Mendelsohn learnt something through sharing this experience with his father and in writing this book about it I certainly did not only about the The German Occupation Of Jersey poem itself and the ways of reading it but about the layered miscommunication that canersist within families There may be a few small sections that only a classics student could love the in depth discussions of specific Greek etymology for example but they are far outweighed by the larger universal issues addressed by Mendelsohn that of ersonal identity and the ways and extent to which we can know another erson which underly both The Odyssey and his own Mr. Sheriff (Mr. Series, potential to understand his father It is incredibly well done I defy anyone to leave it without an evaluative mindset towards their own familial relationships or a desire to immediately read or reread The Odyssey Above all Mendelsohn sassion for the text shines through this book and by the close it is clear that it can still have a role to lay in understanding human behaviour For those new to it and rereaders alike I highly recommend the fresh and vibrant Emily Wilson translationARC via Netgalley. Terpretations and then during a surprise filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus's famous voyages it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn too Jay's responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last.