Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Odyssey: Easy to Understand?

We've read the better part of two books of the Odyssey this week: Book One, where we learn of Odysseus' plight, and Book Five, where the beautiful sea-nymph/goddess Calypso releases him to begin his journey home. Book One was an exerpt from a Penguin Classic text, and Book 5 (as well as the rest of the selections we'll be reading) comes from our Norton Anthology.
I'm wondering if my students actually understand what's going on, aside from being inundated with hard-to-pronounce names and repetitive phrases (which, I promise, you will come to enjoy). Which translation do you like better, having only read a small bit? Do you feel strongly about reading it in one translation over another? Do you feel like class discussion helps? Do you need to look at SparkNotes anyway?
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6 comments:

mendel lazaros said...

I liked the translation in book 5 better than book one. I thought it was easier to understand, although that is not saying so much. What really helps to understand is the class discussion. When we talk about the events of the story in language we can all understand, is when its easiest to know whats going on. I dont feel particularly strong about the language of book 5 over book 1. Sparknotes also makes a big difference. If i am still unable to understand what is entirely going on even after class discussion (which has been the case so far) sparknotes is an easy way to sum up everything which is going on in a comprehendable language

Mendel Lazaros said...
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aharon said...

i agree with mendel the book is really hard to read and i have to use sparknotes a lot, but the discussions in class do help me with the quizzes.

imoan524 said...

I agree with mendel and aaron. Book 1 was much harder to understand than book 5. Perhaps it was just hard to adjust to this language, but I liked the form of book 5. I don't enjoy reading the odyssey because i don't understand it, but the class discussion and sparknotes definatley help me! I am glad that we are moving away from the Odyssey for a little bit, but not too happy about moving to Harry Potter. I honestly don't think that reading these books are going to get me anywhere in life. I would much rather learn how to write papers and learn more vocab then to space out on a book that I cant understand and instead just read sparknotes!

Isaac said...

There is no question that the first book we read was easier to understand. The HUGE book in my opinion is MUCH more confusing to me and there is no doubt about that. I definitely prefer the first one we read. As for the class discussions, I wish that I and my fellow classmates could truly appreciate this story for its history and integration of Greek mythology, but unfortunately I feel that we honestly don't care as much as we should and we take it for granted. That's just me being honest. I really do enjoy when you clearly explain part by part the events that just transpired, but i still feel the need to refresh my memory by looking at the sparknotes at night. I don't know how to see if anyone is or isn't subscribing to your blog, but if I get word, I will definitely tell them to. :)

Shira Tsuna said...

I think that the translations were both pretty much the same but I dont think that is the problem of understanding it. I think if we are going to be reading this type of book, we should learn it in an interesting way. That would definitely make us understand it more clearly because we would pay more attention in class. Sparknotes is good only after we read the books in class.