Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon

By Barbara Graziosi; Emily Greenwood | Go to book overview

6
Logue's Tele-Vision: Reading Homer
from a Distance

Emily Greenwood

This chapter examines Christopher Logue's ongoing adaptation of the Iliad as a study in the cultural politics of reading Homer in translation over the last fifty years.1 As an original adaptation of Homer by a Greekless poet that has been hailed as a classic of English literature in its own time, Logue's Homer intersects with this volume's exploration of the politics and poetics of the reception of Homer in the twentieth century. This is Homer from a distance: Logue routes Homer through the canon of English literature and his poem crackles with the interference of modern-day technologies.

Logue's account of the Iliad aims to bring its audiences closer to the world of Homeric epic by recreating the impact of reading Homer as poetry. Through the combined use of cinematic narrative techniques and poetic sound effects, the action of the Iliad is brought up close in full volume. But at the same time, through careful use of irony, Logue's Homer poems reflect on their own status as adaptations and measure their distance and difference from Homer. This paradoxical 'close-up distance' works for three reasons.

I would like to thank the participants in the Durham conference for helpful com-
ments on my paper. I am also grateful for invitations to speak about Logue's Homer
at the following institutions: the University of St Andrews, the University of Man-
chester, and the Institute of Classical Studies in London.

1 Not quite fifty years: 'Logue's published adaptations of the Iliad span the period
1962–2005 (1959, if radio broadcasts are taken into account). For the publication
history of Logue's adaptations of Homer, see the Appendix at the end of the chapter.

-145-

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