You Can’t Please Everyone – The Odyssey

One star Amazon reviews of classic movies, music and literature. Today we take a look at The Odyssey:

This book had been recommended to me so I decided to read it. It is the worst, no exaggeration, book that I have ever read. It was totally incomprehensible. The plot was not even interesting! If you are sitting there trying to figure out what each character is saying, it’s not easy to find the book enjoyable! I do NOT recommend this book to anyone; young or old!

This book sucks. I dont care if Homer was blind or not this book is like 900 pages too long. I could tell this story in about 10 pages. Homer taking all long to say stupid stuff. Teens if you are reading this all I have to say is CLIFF NOTES CLIFF NOTES you will pass the test, unless you are in AP classes. The teachers expect kids to read cliff notes trust me my moms a teacher. P.S this book SUCKS.

I thought this story was very gross. I mean come on. We are having to read this book in freshman English. Actually our teacher reads it to us, but it is still disgusting. We are also having to watch the movie of this, talk about gruesome. It’s like Scylla comes out of the water and chomps these people out of the ship and blood showers everywhere. I almost threw up every day when we watch this movie. We watch a little each day. I am over there about to puke up my toes and everybody else, all the boys anyway, are saying how cool it is. My boyfriend just laughs when I tell him I almost threw up in there, he is a freshman, so he has to watch it also. I’m sure he thinks it is awesome,but I don’t. If you really like gory stories you will like it. If you don’t then I wouldn’t read it or watch the movie if I were you. I am not saying to listen to me, you can have your own opinion, I’m just saying I don’t like it.

This poem is hard to follow because of the language and the vocabulary, and reading it can be somewhat of a chore. Sentences may have to be read over a few times before they are fully absorbed. Many of the words are difficult, and a few of the character’s names, as well as the names of places, are similar to one another, which makes it confusing. The story is fast paced and does not stay focused on one event for too long. It does, however, explain the events in great detail, with plenty of sensory imagery, making it easy to form a mental picture of the action.
The general plot is rather repetitive. Odysseus overcomes a challenge on an island, and while leaving via boat, a storm takes him to yet another island, where the process is repeated. This makes the story predictable and less interesting. It is even a bit disappointing, because while one usually expects a hero to be happy, helpful, and maybe funny, Odysseus possesses none of these traits. He is stubborn, selfish, overly confident, and serious. Also, before the tales of Odysseus’ travels even begin, the reader finds out that he was gone for ten years, and is now safely retelling his story to others. This and the fact that early in the story, a man tells Odysseus of a prophecy detailing exactly what will happen to him, spoils the ending, so there is little to look forward to.
This work would be more enjoyable for people with an extensive knowledge of Greek mythology, or for people who like poetry. It is doubtful that many people college age and younger would take an interest in this story, and it is certainly not something to read for fun.

Now let me begin by saying I understood this book. I read it for my freshman english class, and really didn’t have much trouble understanding it.

That being said, I still hated this book. It was tedious, boring, and extremely conceited. I found myself not at all caring about these characters. Homer’s idea for a story was a great one, but it comes out poorly. I know it’s hard to argue with classics, but I just cannot explain how awful this book really is. The author doesn’t get into the charcter’s minds, leaving you to fill gaps in their personality.

The explaination of travels and fight scenes is extremely boring and long. He does nothing to spice up the descriptions to make us interested. Many times I could turn three more pages and still be in the same spot. Frusterating expierence.

I pity all of those souls who have to endure reading this utter rubbish. Every time I attempt to read it, it puts my wee self to sleep. This book is so boring, and I can not fathom how people (even though if they are pretentious secondary school teachers or literature lecturers)can still find this enjoyable.

Giving this book one star was very gracious, it deserves -2 stars. There is no other word than awful. For school, we had to read this book, and I was kind of excited, I think Greek Mythology is very interesting. I knew that it would be somewhat of a challange, knowing it was poetry and since it was assigned in my Honors English class. Now that we are done with the book, I am forced to write a 5 page paper on it. All that I can possibly say is that it bored me and I could not even finish it, because it was not written a way that you could understand it. I am warning you if you like to waste your time you should read this book, otherwise stay clear!

19 Comments

  1. I am starting to agree more and more with the 1-star reviewers in this column. Seriously, this book belongs in a history class, not a literature one. You don’t discuss the awkward decorative paintings on ancient pottery in art class. At least not for more than an hour.

    This book was written almost 3000 years ago. And damn it, it shows.

  2. lumpi, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Not only is the Odyssey a great read, but Greek pottery is some of the most beautiful artwork ever created (in my opinion).

  3. @Lumpi

    You agree that this book deserves one star? Really? The book that is the classic of all classics. The book that every single other book that tells of a story of a journey pretty much copies only deserves 1 star? The book that DEFINES western literature only deserves 1 star because it’s tricky to read?

  4. The same is true in the world of art and literature. The average man has an opinion of his own. He is no longer a parrot repeating what somebody else says. He not only has opinions, but he has the courage to express them. In literature the old models fail to satisfy him. He has the courage to say that Milton is tiresome — that Dante is prolix — that they deal with subjects having no human interest. He laughs at Young’s “Night, Thoughts” and Pollok’s “Course of Time” — knowing that both are filled with hypocrisies and absurdities. He no longer falls upon his knees before the mechanical poetry of Mr. Pope. He chooses — and stands by his own opinion.
    Robert Green Ingersoll – “Crumbling Creeds”

  5. @Jean:

    Fair enough. But if one doesn’t first take the time to understand why something is considered a classic, yet dismisses it from a point of ignorance, then that’s not really a rejection of old models. That’s just run-of-the-mill simple-mindedness.

  6. My issue with this book was that we knew from the outset that everything would be ok for the the main character. I found this book a ton less enertaining than the Illiad, but certainly not a one star book.

  7. It is even a bit disappointing, because while one usually expects a hero to be happy, helpful, and maybe funny, Odysseus possesses none of these traits.

    For some reason I blame Disney for this.

  8. You’re all ridiculous because you cannot be bothered to read AND FINISH one of the first and greatest pieces of literature ever written, even though half of you say you’re studying literature. Perhaps you don’t like that kind of genre, or don’t like Greek mythology, or you don’t care about the Homeric code, the values of people from that time, whatever… but you all whinge how boring it is and can’t even appreciate it for its influence over the whole literary world.

    I doubt that in 3000 years time, people will be reading what you have to say about it. Considering Homer has survived that long, you would think that it isn’t as bad as you all have decided.

  9. The people who post the one-star reviews are the same people who don’t understand the irony in lumpi’s original post: hilarious and worthy of ridicule.

    Also, I APPLAUDE THE DISSENTING VOICE

  10. I’ve kept quiet on the “can’t please everyone” threads, but I can’t help but add: This is my favorite book. The R. Fitzgerald translation is awesome.

    Don’t have any persuasive argument other than the fact that I love it. 😉

  11. I have to admit that even as a classicist it takes a certain effort of willpower to sit down and genuinely enjoy the Iliad and Odyssey in English. But man oh man are they rockin’ in Greek.

  12. @Lumpi:

    Art classes and Literature classes are not similarly focussed. A Creative Writing class and an Art class would be a better comparison, or a History of Art class and a Literature class.

    With that in mind, then Homer’s works should indeed be taught.

  13. Biggest problem with ‘reviews’ of this nature, is that there are various translations, and the translator can be the problem. Reading Aristotle’s writings, I noted that was a big problem, since some were nested in ‘thee and thou’ archaic prose, and some were writing too vernacular. Aristotle wrote in good language of his time.
    Keep in mind, reviewers have their own problems. The first day reviews of ‘Star Wars’ would have killed the movie, had not word of mouth gone out. The two and three times around the block lines, caused many reviewers to change their review, the third or fouth day the massive block buster was out. Even the guys with the thumbs played switch on that one.

  14. i can’t lie. i hated this.
    we read it in english lit and i really struggled to get through it.
    the illiad was better, but marginally so…

    *snooogggzzzzz*

  15. Fitzgerald and Lombardo are all well and good, but Lattimore or Hobbes does it for me, at least in English.

  16. Obviously our teenage society is already divided into Morlocks and Eloi.

    (If you have to have the joke explained, you are an Eloi.)

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