Homer in English

I’ve been fascinated with Homer’s poems since I was a teenager, but the only language I understand is English (and not always that). I wondered what I was getting by way of translations: good poetry, good reconstruction of a performance piece for reading, or just wordiness. There are 110 translations of the Iliad into English … More Homer in English

Travellers’ tales

I began writing this essay thinking to review some favourite books of travels. After adding just one more, and one more, it belatedly occurred to me I had bitten off more than I could, er, chew. Aren’t all books books of travel? Don’t we travel in the wonderful world of the imagination when we read … More Travellers’ tales

Famous then forgotten

I’ve been reading some of the detective novels of Freeman Wills Crofts (1879-1957), and found him almost completely unknown now other than by a brief biographical notice on Wikipedia. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s though Crofts was one of the best known writers of detective stories in the world, and his titles regularly outsold those … More Famous then forgotten

Looking ahead

‘Seeing is believing’, we used to say, and,  ‘the camera cannot lie’. Afterwards we became suspicious: Hollywood’s special effects, and Photoshop, made us doubt what we saw. In the 1930s Hitler had shown us how hysteria could be turned into hate through propaganda, and hate into control. And in the world we live in, exploitation … More Looking ahead