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"The Odyssey" by Seymour Chwast

"The Odyssey," adapted by Seymour Chwast, is a retelling of the classic Greek tale in graphic novel format. Chwast casts Odysseus in a Buck Rogers style that works very well, though old Buck is not exactly cutting edge. Yet the conceit works, since Odysseus met some unusual life forms in his journey home from the Trojan War. Thinking of Cyclops, Scylla or the sirens as extraterrestrial might make sense to today's reader even if Buck Rogers does not.

The graphic novel format allows a lot of things to happen "simultaneously." Whereas Homer relied on words (and a lot of them), Chwast uses an inset or a small panel to convey supplemental information or interactions. That cuts down on the story's length, which is one very good reason to adapt Homer's epic. Yet some things get lost in the translation, so don't rely on Chwast's version for homework assignments!

There's also a hint of flippancy in Chwast's version that is not true to the original. It's kind of annoying when an illustrator, talented though he may be, simplifies great literature while winking at us. Nevertheless, this is worth reading, as is the original.  

--Julie C., Headquarters

 

 

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