From the award-winning, best-selling writer: a deeply moving tale of a father and son''s transformative journey in reading - and reliving - Homer''s epic masterpiece.
When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enrol 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 about the great literature he''d neglected in his youth - and, even more, a final opportunity to 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.
''Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho, Homer and Horace ... He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.'' Sebastian Barry Over the past three decades, Daniel Mendelsohn''s essays and reviews have earned him a reputation as ''our most irresistible literary critic'' (New York Times). This striking new collection exemplifies the way in which Mendelsohn - a classicist by training - uses the classics as a lens to think about urgent contemporary debates. There is much to surprise here. Mendelsohn invokes the automatons featured in Homer''s epics to help explain the AI films Ex Machina and Her, and perceives how Ted Hughes sought redemption by translating a play of Euripides (the ''bad boy of Athens'') about a wayward husband whose wife returns from the dead. There are essays on Sappho''s sexuality and the feminism of Game of Thrones; on how Virgil''s Aeneid prefigures post-World War II history and why we are still obsessed with the Titanic; on Patrick Leigh Fermor''s final journey, Karl Ove Knausgaard''s autofiction and the plays of Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward. The collection ends with a poignant account of the author''s boyhood correspondence with the historical novelist Mary Renault, which inspired his ambition to become a writer. In The Bad Boy of Athens, Mendelsohn provokes and dazzles with erudition, emotion and tart wit while his essays dance across eras, cultures and genres. This is a provocative collection which sees today''s master of popular criticism using the ancient past to reach into the very heart of modern culture.
''A gripping detective story, a stirring epic, a tale of ghosts and dark marvels, a thrilling display of scholarship, a meditation on the unfathomable mystery of good and evil, ''The Lost'' is as complex and rich with meaning and story as the past it seeks to illuminate. A beautiful book, beautifully written'' Michael Chabon In this updated edition of Daniel Mendelsohn''s classic, riveting narrative, a writer''s search for the truth behind his family''s tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic - part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly detective work - that brilliantly explores the nature of time and memory, family and history.
''The Lost'' begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust - an unmentionable subject that gripped his imagination from earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939 and tantalised by the fragmentary tales of a terrible betrayal, Daniel Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relative''s fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents, and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family''s story began, and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him.
Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving a world-wandering odyssey with childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews, and provocative ruminations on biblical texts and Jewish history, ''The Lost'' transforms the story of one family into a profound, morally searching meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Deeply personal, grippingly suspenseful, and beautifully written, this literary tour de force illuminates all that is lost, and found, in the passage of time.