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Un été avec Homère (A Summer with Homer) by Sylvain Tesson


Sylvain Tesson is a French writer and adventure traveller with several books published based on his adventures. The book is based on a radio programme he did with the same name. He deep dives into the stories of The Iliad and The Odyssey. He looks at the actions in the ancient books and compared them with what is happening today. He says that "to open The Iliad and The Odyssey is like reading a daily paper". Nothing is changing under the sun. "Man remains true to himself, a magnificent and desperate animal, flowing with light and full of mediocrity. Homeros allows us to save on newspaper subscriptions.


Tesson rented a lonely cottage by the Aegean Sea with Homer as his only company. He reads, he ponders and asks question. What is the driving force in man? How should you really live? The answers are fascinating as we, together with Tesson, read Homer's account on life.


"The Iliad was the musical theme of the curse of men. The shackles of the soul were let loose on the battlefield. The Odyssey is the prayer book of a man who escapes the collective frenzy and tries to reconnect with his situation as a mortal - free and dignified.

The last axis of the Odyssey: the endurance of the soul. The biggest danger is to forget your goal, to get rid of yourself, to no longer follow the direction of your life.

To deny oneself is the greatest shame."


In nine parts he looks into Homer's world in detail. The story as it was told, what it meant for the people at the time, and what we can learn of it today. Or, the eternal question; are people so different today? He often compares events of antiquity with events today, and surprisingly often we do recognise what is happening.


"The night with Penelope reminds us in a cosmic way that the Odyssey has been a series of adventures experienced only by men but instigated by women. Women have pulled the strings. Doesn't Penelope's web symbolize the warp of our fates being woven and unraveled? Athena helped Odysseus, Calypso restrained him, Penelope kept the plotters at bay, Helena was the cause of the Trojan War, the sorceresses set their traps, the monstrous daughters of Poseidon, Scylla and Charbydis, snatched away the sailors. The man thinks he is living his adventures. In fact, it is the women who manipulate him. It would be a really bad idea for the former to want to be men's equals when in fact they are superior to them."


The book, as you see from the image above, is full of plastic tags where I have marked something worthy of going back to. If you want to understand the two books by Homer, Tesson's analyses of the books are worth reading. Tesson entertain us with a beautiful prose, full of wisdom and clarity. We do see the world in another light when we come to the end of the book. It is said that Alexander the Great travelled with The Iliad under his pillow. I think I could bring this book with me wherever I go. Not necessarily under my pillow, but in my handbag. A book to go back to over and over again. And, by the way, my book has a handy size, perfectly fitting into my handbag. And a hardy, durable cover. What is not to love?


NB: The quotes are translated from the Swedish version by me and Google translate.





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4 Comments


This sounds like a marvelous read. I love to see what others think about the great books.

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Definitely worth a read. He made the stories of Homer clearer with his analyses. I also liked the way he compared the old happenings with the way our world look today. Sometimes you think not that much have changed.

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Guest
Mar 21

One of the rare books by Tesson I haven't read yet! I really need to! I recently read Un été avec Rimbaud, which was excellent too. Emma @ Words And Peace

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This is really worth reading, Emma. It was so great. I will definitely read something else by him, and why not start with Rimbaud. I did like the way he planned the book. Maybe this is also based on a radio programme?

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