by Alessandro Baricco
If you want to read the story of the rage of Achilles but you're not quite up to Homer, Alessandro Baricco's An Iliad is just what you're looking for. A slim volume of 158 pages, An Iliad is made up of seventeen short chapters each told by a different character from the saga. Helen, Agamemnon, Nestor, Hector, Priam, Andromache, Achilles and more all are given the opportunity tell parts of the story from their unique point of view.
Baricco does not venture far from the original. He removes the gods as characters, but otherwise follows the action and dialog of The Iliad quite closely. Where he does insert his own spin, it is written in italics so there is no question. He also includes the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy at the end to wrap things up, which many may not know is not told in The Iliad. (You have to look to Virgil's The Aeneid for a really great telling of the Trojan Horse!) He begins the book with an introduction telling why and how he wrote An Iliad, so the reader knows precisely what s/he is getting into.
I would have really liked the book all on it's own, but Baricco finishes with an essay on war that elevated it to another level. The messages of The Iliad and its timeless characters took on deeper meaning for me, and not only will I most likely be purchasing a copy of this book to add to my permanent library, I am most anxious to revisit its predecessor. I will leave you with a small excerpt from that essay:
"[T]oday, the task of a true pacifism should be not to demonize war excessively so much as to understand that only when we are capable of another kind of beauty will we be able to do without what war has always offered us. To construct another kind of beauty is perhaps the only route to true peace. To show ourselves capable of illuminating the shadows of existence without recourse to the flame of war. To give a powerful meaning to things without having to place them in the blinding light of death." (p. 157)
Peace to all who come here ~
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!