The Odyssey


Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith

Introduced by Bernard Knox

Translated by Robert Fagles

The greatest quest ever written is published as a stunning Folio edition that pairs Robert Fagles’s renowned translation with the illustrations of Grahame Baker-Smith.

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After the Trojan War, Odysseus, the mythological king of the island of Ithaca, sets sail for home, where his wife Penelope and young son Telemachus await him. But with the god Poseidon keeping a hostile eye, Odysseus’ journey is fraught with perils. For ten years he struggles against new enemies and adversities, storm and shipwreck. When he finally reaches home disguised as a beggar, it is to face more treachery and even greater danger.

Presented in a striking, quarter-bound buckram binding, this edition takes the renowned translation of Robert Fagles. Its focus on contemporary English phrasing and idioms results in an eloquent and engrossing read that will appeal to those familiar with Homer, as well as new readers. As befits the era, there is mythological allusion in Grahame Baker-Smith’s illustrations, while the Homeric tragedy and the nuances of this translation are discussed by classicist Bernard Knox in an introduction that ensures this edition should be on every collector’s shelf.

Production Details

Quarter-bound in buckram with printed cloth sides

Set in Monotype Centaur

592 pages

Frontispiece and 8 colour illustrations

Printed map endpapers

Blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

The Building Blocks of modern literature

‘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’

Contained within Homer’s epic story are the seeds from which modern literature grew. The series of dramatic, often symbolic encounters – with the Lotus Eaters, the Cyclops, the Sirens, the fearsome crags of Scylla and Charybdis – still resonate today, and his incredible voyage is as exciting and involving as any of its imitators. Often grouped with The Iliad as a sequel to the epic war poem, this is Homer delving deeper into the psyche of his protagonist. He pushes Odysseus to the brink of human endurance before he is finally allowed back home to face an even greater challenge.

‘If stranded on a desert island, I’d want with me The Odyssey. . . the perfect book with which to dream of homecomings’

  1. Kazuo Ishiguro

A successful literary partnership

Robert Fagles worked with world-renowned classicist and author Bernard Knox on a number of books throughout his career (The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid). The combination of expertise on Greek literature and ancient history resulted in Fagles’s extremely well received translations, supported by Knox’s extensive research on the context, language considerations and points of translation. Their work was the natural choice for our edition and it complements Homer’s Iliad, as a bookshelf companion to create a superb set for collectors.

About Homer

Homer was believed to have been born between the 12th and 8th centuries BC and may have lived on the coast of Asia Minor. Little is known about his life beyond which can be gleaned in his stories, and there have been many assumptions made based on his writing and the characters that appear in his work. It is generally accepted that The Iliad was written first and The Odyssey was written later in Homer’s life. Although these are the only two works attributed to Homer, many others have been linked to him, including Homeric Hymns.

About Robert Fagles

Robert Fagles was born in Philadelphia in 1933. He graduated from Amherst College in 1955 and went on to study for a master’s degree at Yale University. He continued to study at Yale, gaining his PhD in English in 1959 and staying at the university to teach English. His first work of translation was of the poetry of Bacchylides, and during the 1970s he translated a number of Greek dramas, including Homer’s The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996). In 1978, Fagles published I, Vincent: Poems from the Pictures of Van Gogh. He died at his Princetown home in 2008.

About Bernard Knox

Bernard Knox was born in Bradford in 1914. He studied Classics at Cambridge, after which he fought in the Spanish Civil War with the Republican forces. After the Second World War, Knox studied at Yale and earned a doctorate. He worked as a professor and went on to lead the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington. As well as writing the introductions to Robert Fagles’s translations of Homer’s The Iliad (1990) and The Odyssey (1996) and Virgil’s Aeneid (2006), he wrote a number of books including Oedipus at Thebes: Sophocles’ Tragic Hero and His time (1957). Knox died in 2010.

About Grahame Baker-Smith

Grahame Baker-Smith is a self-taught illustrator. He began to experiment with digital techniques, including Photoshop, several years ago, and now combines painting and drawing in traditional media with photographed and scanned textures, enjoying the control that digital methods give an artist over every aspect of the image. He has illustrated 16 books for The Folio Society, including Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (2001), The Siege and Fall of Troy by Robert Graves (2005), Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (2011) and The Time Machine & The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells (2019).


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