In 2017, Emily Wilson became the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English. Her translation of the 12,110-line epic poem offered a fresh perspective on the rousing tale of shipwrecks, monsters and magic. Her text has been praised for its accuracy and an accessibility that brings the ancient work into the 21st century – perhaps raising the eyebrows of some Homer purists along the way. Speaking to Jennifer Byrne, Emily elaborates on her approach to translating the second-oldest text in Western literature and why it remains so vital today.
Emily Wilson (International)
Emily Wilson is the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English and is a Professor in the Department of Classical Studies, and Chair of the Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania. She grew up in Oxford, England, and got her BA and MPhil at Oxford University, before moving to the United States to do a PhD in Classical Studies and Comparative Literature at Yale University. Her research interests include the intersections between classical and later literature, the relationship of literature to philosophy, Greek and Roman tragedy, and the theory and practice of poetry in translation. Her first book was about “overliving” in the tragic tradition from Sophocles to Milton. Her second was about representations of the death of Socrates from Plato to the twentieth century. Her third was a study of the life and work of the Roman philosopher and political advisor, Seneca. She has published a verse translation of Seneca's tragedies, and verse translations of four tragedies by Euripides in The Greek Plays. Her widely-acclaimed verse translation of The Odyssey appeared in 2017. She is currently at work on a volume of essays on ancient tragedy, a new verse translation of Oedipus Tyrannos, and a new translation of The Iliad.
Jennifer Byrne (Australian)
Jennifer Byrne has been presenting The Book Club on ABC TV for ten years, during which she has also has interviewed many of the world’s pre-eminent writers for special broadcasts, including the only Australian interview with JK Rowling in 2012 (which coincided with the launch of her first adult book). Jennifer has also worked as a TV journalist on ABC and has written feature stories for many of Australia’s leading newspapers.