The-Illiad-by-Homer-197x300It just seems silly to be going on about there being too many translations of Homer. Does anyone, having spent two or three minutes thinking about it, really believe that there’s any rationality behind the publishing market? We don’t publish another novel about college friends who grow apart in the real world because we judge that the world needs another picaresque novel — we do it because someone wanted to write one, and did an OK job of it, and we have collectively decided we can make some money off it.

Publishing Perspectives really should know better, but here’s their surprised reaction to the Homeric overflow. Redundant to you, Dennis Abrams, may be another Homer translation, but obviously not to Caroline Alexander, who no doubt did it because she wanted to. Nobody’s making you buy the book.

Most of those who ever engage with Homer probably only buy one version. It’s not, for most people, the sort of thing you’ll want to be poring over comparing this and that translation. There seems to be a touching assumption that just because a publisher did it, there must be lots of people who buy it. Unfortunately all too many books fail: we hope none of these fall into that category. Lucky are those who had the good fortune to have done their once-through of Homer in the hands of Alexander Pope, as Daniel Mendelsohn tells us in his 2011 New Yorker close-reading which is linked to in the Publishing Perspectives story. Because it’s an interesting piece I’m linking to it here as well.

Parenthetically one might note that Publishing Perspectives has often been at us for not publishing enough translations. It ill becomes them to criticize us for doing too many here.