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In this issue we revisit the first literary works in Western culture, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey for their relevancy to the 21st century. The Iliad and/or the Odyssey are still required reading in many general literature courses throughout the country and most major if not all world literature anthologies currently available include selections of one or the other of these two epics. New translations of Homer's works in English have appeared at regular intervals since George Chapman's translation in the 16th century, which long remained the standard English version. Critical essays and books on Homer's epics continue to be published annually in leading scholarly journals and by major university presses throughout this country and abroad, which makes Homer perhaps the best selling author of all time with a 3000 year track record. It is often asked in academic circles if Homer is still relevant to us today or if he is even still alive at our institutions of higher learning. The thirteen essays included in this collection respond with a resounding Yes. Homer is not just still alive but thriving in the 21st century.

The thirteen essays included in this special issue on "Reading Homer in the 21st Century" are divided into three main sections. The first, "Homer and the Oral Tradition" contains two essays by John Miles Foley and Pura Nieto Hernandez, which set the stage for approaching Homer in today's college/university classroom by providing the background necessary for a close and intelligent reading of Homer's works. The second section, "Interpreting Homer's Texts," containing seven essays, examines the Homeric epics from a variety point of views. Damian Stocking and Annette Lucia Giesecke's essays take a philosophical and/or political approach to the epics while Matthew Clark, Joe Wilson, and Kalliopi Nikolopoulou deal specifically with the interpretation of the Iliad and John B. Vlahos, and Scott Richardson do the same with the Odyssey. The third section, "Homer's Influence on Contemporary Culture" offers four essays by Scott A. Belsky, Casey Due, Mihoko Suzuki, and Kostas Myrsiades, which show how Homer continues to influence our Western literary tradition.

We hope that this special issue will serve the needs of college/university instructors asked or who wish to include Homer on their reading lists and will provide some new insights on the relevency of the Homeric epics in the 21st century for all readers of Homer.
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Publication:College Literature
Date:Mar 22, 2007
Previous Article:Books received: July 16, 2006 to October 15, 2006.
Next Article:"Reading" Homer through oral tradition.

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