I finally finished The Iliad just a few moments ago. I enjoyed reading it, but to be honest, it was like trying to run a marathon after sitting on my ass for a year. As I said in my introductory 2YRC post, I used to read constantly but I haven’t read very much in the past few years. Most of the time when I have a choice between reading a book or reading a blog post, the blog post usually wins. So to take on a book that was not only ridiculously long, but also incredibly repetitive was insane.
The problem with ancient literature, (and I discovered this a while back, when I had to read The Epic Of Gilgamesh for my World Literature class), is that it was written before there were editors. There was no one there to tell the writers to kill their darlings, and so the stories- which are great on their own- suffer. Is it really necessary to list every single person the subject of the chapter killed before he himself was killed? Could we please just focus on the more notable or interesting deaths, and not bother with the others?
I know, this is probably a blasphemy of sorts to lovers of classic literature everywhere. I almost feel guilty writing it. I mean The Iliad has survived longer than most of the books on the bestseller list ever will, and for good reason. It’s a great story, and a window into the values and beliefs of a culture long dead. The first few chapters, as well as the last few, were wonderful. When I was reading those chapters I found the book hard to put down, but I could have done without the middle. No offense to the poets of the ancient past, but no story about war should ever hit a lull like that.
Anyway, that’s it for book one of the 2YRC. Next up, Fahrenheit 451.