For George Chapman (1559-1634) his translation of Homer was ‘the work that I was born to do’. The publication of his Iliad and Odyssey together in 1616 was a landmark in English literature, but until now there has been no edition which modernises his spelling and punctuation and also provides detailed help in grasping his often obscure language, and in understanding how and why he translated Homer in the particular way he did.
This edition of the Odyssey, a companion to Robert Miola’s edition of the Iliad, aims to bring Chapman’s rendering alive for the modern reader. Its literary, philosophical, and religious context is explained in an Introduction and in footnotes, and side- and end-glosses clarify Chapman’s English. His Odyssey is not only a stylistic masterpiece of seventeenth-century English: it constitutes a profound and moving interpretation – still relevant after four hundred years – of Homer’s story of the suffering and grace implicit in the human condition.
Through its teeming diversity of events, settings, and characters Homer and his first English translator explore the question of what it means to be human in a complex and threatening world.
Gordon Kendal, a former Chaplain and Research Fellow in Philosophy at Lincoln College, Oxford, was until recently an Honorary Research Fellow in English at St Andrews. He has edited Gavin Douglas’s middle Scots translation (1513) of Virgil’s Aeneid for MHRA Tudor & Stuart Translations.
‘Kendal states that Chapman sought “to bring Homer’s translucence within the reader’s grasp” (29) and this edition (recently joined by an edition of Chapman’s Iliad, ed. Robert Miola) does something similar for Chapman’s work, endowing a multifaceted, challenging, and important early modern poem with a new level of accessibility.’ — Katherine Heavey, Renaissance Quarterly 71.1, 2018, 224-25
‘George Chapman’s Homer’s Odyssey, edited by Gordon Kendal, performs an inestimable service by giving students and scholars an easily readable text of Chapman’s landmark 1616 translation of the Odyssey, with modernized spelling and punctuation and a helpful marginal glossary as well as a very fine introductory essay that places Chapman’s achievement in its literary and cultural context.’ — Lowell Gallagher, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 58.1, Winter 2018, 219-77
‘The MHRA edition vastly improves our ability to appreciate Chapman’s Homer as English poetry. The new edition presents a far more accessible text of Chapman’s Homer than any previous edition... The new MHRA editions undoubtedly surpass previous editions for classroom use. They make it practical, perhaps for the first time, to incorporate Chapman into courses on Jacobean poetry, on classical reception and the history of translation, on the materiality of the early modern book.’ — Sarah Van der Laan, Spenser Review 48.2.15, Spring-Summer 2018
‘A clear, inexpensive critical edition of Chapman's Odyssey is a welcome addition to the Modern Humanities Research Association's series, as it puts into print a work of significant influence on and reflective of early modern literature and culture... The text itself is extensively footnoted and well glossed, giving the novice reader of early modern English a solid guide to the more difficult elements of vocabulary and allusion without interfering unduly with a smooth reading of the poem.’ — Natalie Grinnell, Sixteenth Century Journal 49.3, 2018, 884-85
‘We should certainly be grateful for Kendal’s careful, learned, and illuminating scholarship, which guides us through the twists and turns of the translated text to a fuller understanding and enjoyment of Chapman’s English Odyssey.’ — Marie-Alice Belle, Renaissance and Reformation 41.2, Spring 2018, 164-66
‘For the significantly improved access to Chapman’s Homer and for the rich collection of pointers in the footnotes, both of these volumes are worthy additions to the MHRA series. Miola and Kendal also allow their affection for Chapman to energize their editions, which provides the reader with some extra motivation to tackle these challenging texts.’ — Sheldon Brammall, Translation and Literature 27, 2018, 223–31
‘This recent addition to the MHRA’s ‘Tudor & Stuart Translations’ series is quite simply a joy to read... one of the great achievements of this volume is that it accomplishes the difficult task of both guiding the novice (perhaps student) reader through Chapman’s complex undertaking and offering researchers an excellent platform on which to conduct their own studies... Catering so broadly to the needs of a diverse readership, the volume is much to be commended.’ — Andrew Hiscock, Modern Language Review 113.4, October 2018, 855-56 (full text online)