Friday 20 April 2018

An Odyssey

Finished April 16
An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn

This memoir encompasses a few months in Mendelsohn's life, with forays into his life at earlier times, and reflections on this time later. Shortly before the spring semester when Daniel was going to be teaching an undergraduate seminar on The Odyssey, his father, eighty-one at the time, asked to sit in on the course. Daniel is a writer and a classics scholar. His father, had worked first for Grumman, an aerospace corporation, and then as a computer science professor, but he took pride in the fact that he had studied Latin as a young man.
His father travelled in from his home on Long Island weekly that spring to participate in the course, and shortly after, when Daniel was discussing the experience with one of his mentors, she suggested a cruise that was being offered that summer that traced the route of Odysseus' journey. When Daniel mentioned it to his father, his dad was enthusiastic, and so they went.
This book traces both the disussion of the book in the seminar and the corresponding personal conversations he had with his father, and the time on the cruise that corresponded to that part of the story. It also describes the author's feelings and experience around his father's illness and death soon after this trip.
This is a very personal memoir of a father-son relationship that had its difficulties, but also moments of great intimacy. My reading of the Odyssey occured more than thirty years ago, but this brought my enjoyment of that story back to me.

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