With its inspired counterpointing of Homeric and Caribbean themes, Derek Walcott's new play, commissioned by Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, springs from the same imaginative sources as his epic poem Omeros.
Episodes of the story of Odysseus' protracted wanderings from fallen Troy to his island home of Ithaca are pungently interspersed with a commentary by the blind singer Billy Blue. Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea, the giant Cyclops, Circe and her revellers, ghosts, and mermaids are among the cast. With its vast sweep and richly figurative language, The Odyssey confirms that Derek Walcott is as compelling a playwright as he is a poet.
"[The Odyssey features Walcott's] voluptuous metaphor making and severe truth telling."--Time
Robert Fagles's 1990 translation of The Iliad was highly praised; here, he moves to The Odyssey. As in the previous work, he adroitly mixes contemporary language with the driving rhythms of the original. The first line reads: "Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns/ driven time and again off course once he had plundered/ the hallowed heights of Troy." Hellenic scholar Bernard Knox contributes extensive introductory commentary, providing both historical and literary perspective. Notes, a pronouncing glossary, genealogies, a bibliography and maps of Homer's world are included.