To retrieve the energy of the Iliad, Alice Oswald has stripped away its story, and her account focuses by turns on Homer’s extended similes and on the brief biographies of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably – and unforgotten – in the copiousness of Homer’s glance.
‘The Iliad is an oral poem. This translation presents it as an attempt – in the aftermath of the Trojan War – to remember people’s names and lives without the use of writing. I hope it will have its own coherence as a series of memories and similes laid side by side: an antiphonal account of man in his world . . . compatible with the spirit of oral poetry, which was never stable but always adapting itself to a new audience, as if its language, unlike written language, was still alive and kicking.’ – Alice Oswald