A work of both art and scholarship, Stephen Mitchell’s translation of The Iliad (Free Press, $35) updates Homer’s epic for the 21st century, even as it takes the work back to its roots. Written down many centuries after it was composed, the original oral version has been added to over the generations, but Mitchell has based this latest rendition on a text stripped of known later accretions. To tell this “dramatically sharper and leaner” story, Mitchell, a prolific translator of works as varied in style, language, and purpose as Gilgamesh, the Tao Te Ching, the Bible, and Rilke’s poetry, studied the flow of the Greek meter and worked to match its rhythms in English. The result is an energetic and graceful account of the long Trojan War and the passions of the warriors that drove it, with every word carefully chosen for sound as well as sense. Mitchell’s informative commentary and unobtrusive notes are invaluable to appreciating the richness of this elegant volume, the first new rendering of The Iliad in some fifteen years.

The Iliad: (The Stephen Mitchell Translation) Cover Image
By Homer, Stephen Mitchell (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781439163382
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - August 14th, 2012

From jump-rope songs about mortality to the light satire of “Ric’s Progress,” the tale of a modern would-be rake, Donald Hall’s 18th collection ranges wide in subject and form. Like the objects gathered in The Back Chamber (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22) of his family’s New England farmhouse, these poems are invested with love and consummate craftsmanship; they’re made to last. In his eighties now, the former U.S. Poet Laureate and winner of nearly every writing award going, has a prodigious memory; he gives us details of boyhood farm chores, names of beloved horses, radio news of the 1930s and ‘40s, train rides. In moving, tightly compressed elegies he remembers lost friends, family, and fellow writers. But he lives in the present as much as in the past, and here also are new loves, recent travels, the sustaining enthusiasms of watching baseball and writing poetry. Always aware of passing time, Hall is still the one in charge, pruning “dead limbs for next year’s sake.”

The Back Chamber Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547645858
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - September 13th, 2011

Charles Dickens’s favorite of his own novels was David Copperfield; the least popular in his time and since is Barnaby Rudge. Dickens got his start as a writer reporting on Parliament. He was an amateur magician and mesmerist, and when traveling was always eager to visit theaters and morgues. These are a few glimpses of the literary legend available in Claire Tomalin’s richly textured Charles Dickens: A Life (Penguin Press, $36). Or make that lives: Dickens was a novelist, journalist, editor, actor, performer of his own fiction (his readings drew thousands and were more lucrative than book sales), social reformer, and father of ten. Tomalin, an award-winning novelist and biographer—her works include a study of Ellen Ternan, Dickens’s paramour—matches her subject’s range and energy with a vivid, fast-paced narrative in which she charts Dickens’s growing popularity and financial security book by book and child by child. She also illuminates the complex, often contradictory man behind the icon of Victorian industriousness. A champion of the poor and the outcast, Dickens was kind to strangers but often callous to his family, sending away all but one of his sons and publicly rejecting his wife after twenty years of marriage.

Charles Dickens: A Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143122050
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - October 30th, 2012