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!


Friday, May 22, 2009


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 ~


Meghan said...

This book sounds amazing. Given that I just read and really enjoyed Silk, this goes straight onto my wishlist.

Lezlie said...

Meghan ~ I did just the opposite. This one made me put "Silk" on my list. :-) A few of this others look really great also. I'll be looking into more of his work in the future.


JoAnn said...

This could be the only way I get to read Homer ;-)
Silk is already on my wishlist!

Rebecca Reid said...

I absolutely loved The Iliad so I'm very intrigued in copy-cat books about it...This sounds amazing.

Michele said...

Oh gosh, Lezlie, this sounds so good. I love Homer's work, so this one would be a great add-on, I'm thinking!

joanna said...

Baricco is a good friend of mine's favorite author and she's been urging me to read something of his... I'd never heard of this on though, only Silk, which scares me for some reason. I love mythology so maybe this one would be a better one to start with!

Terri B. said...

Lezlie, This book looks fantastic. I didn't know about it, but have placed it on my wishlist! I love stuff like this to supplement reading the originals. In fact, they often leave me wanting to go read or re-read the original.

Lezlie said...

JoAnn ~ If you never read Homer (Oh, but it's sooo good!), this will at least make you conversant in the story. And you never know, after this you might find yourself reading the real thing after all! :-)

Rebecca ~ Ditto on The Iliad. It's amazing. This is almost like reading it again, only easier.

Michele ~ I think you would really, really like this book. I'd love to see your thoughts on it!

Joanna ~ Silk was the only one I had heard of, too. I ran across this while browsing at the library. I'm so glad I did! Though Silk is now on my TBR after reading this one.

Terri ~ That's what happened to me with this one. I'm mulling over all the things I want to read this summer and wondering if I can cram The Iliad in there somewhere! :-)


Kim L said...

Sounds like an interesting take on the classic story! I have never attempting reading the original, but I might attempt this. It sounds like a good modern look at the classic story.

Lezlie said...

Kim ~ This will give you a very good idea of what the original is like as far as the story. And it's quick, which is always a plus when you're unsure of something. I hope you like it!


Margaret said...

I'd almost forgotten that I have a copy of The Iliad. Now this book looks as though it's what I need to get reading the "real thing".

Lezlie said...

Margaret ~ This would be an excellent introduction. I think it makes The Iliad itself less scary.


Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

So glad you brought this to my attention! I've been thinking about reading The Odyssey and Iliad for a while now, but I just can't seem to open up those volumes (I've read The Odyssey and parts of The Iliad years ago). I'll be checking this one out!

Lezlie said...

Trish ~ I hope you do! I can't wait to see your thoughts on it!