An Odyssey

An Odyssey

A Father, A Son, and An Epic

Paperback - 2018
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Presents the story of a father and son's transformative shared journey in reading in the wake of the father's late-in-life enrollment in his son's undergraduate seminar, where the two engaged in debates over how to interpret Homer's classic masterpiece.
"When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate seminar on the Odyssey that his son Daniel teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. For Jay, a retired research scientist who sees the world through a mathematician's unforgiving eyes, this return to the classroom is his 'one last chance' to learn the great literature he'd neglected in his youth--and, even more, a final opportunity to more fully understand his son. But through the sometimes uncomfortable months that follow, as the two men explore Homer's great work together--first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son's interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus' legendary voyages-it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: for 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. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn's narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home. Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar's most revelatory entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration."--Jacket.
After enrolling in an undergraduate seminar on the Odyssey that his son teaches, Mendelsohn hoped to learn the great literature he'd neglected in his youth. Instead he was presented with an opportunity for a father-and-son philosophical journey, engaging in debates over how to interpret Homer's classic masterpiece. The two then retraced Odysseus' voyages in a Mediterranean journey that helped them overcome long-held secrets, and learn the meaning of home.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2018.
Edition: First Vintage Books edition.
ISBN: 9780345806215
0345806212
9780771057441
077105744X
Characteristics: 306 pages ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Chicago Public Library recommends this title as one of the best books published in 2017.

When esteemed critic Mendelsohn was preparing an undergraduate course on The Odyssey, his aging, retired father Jay asked if he could sit in. After all, it might be his last chance to study the great classic. Despite their somewhat strained relationship, Mendelsohn agreed, and after the course co... Read More »


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patcarstensen
Dec 26, 2017

He artfully employs many of Homer's literary techniques -- such as ring narratives -- and shows what great teaching is.

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blcwrites
Dec 21, 2017

Profound on so many levels. One of those books (rare these days) when I didn't want it to end and when I couldn't postpone it, felt shaken, inspired, and wanting to read his other books. And then, read this one again. Fathers and sons, kids and parents, the classic of The Odyssey and modern life highlight each other. And if you have read or want to read the Odyssey, this book can be your faithful guide, like Athena.

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