An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
Thursday, October 11, 2018 · 4 PM - 5:30 PM
Ancient Studies Week
Daniel Mendelsohn, Charles Ranlett Flint Professor of Humanities, Bard College
Internationally bestselling author, critic, and classicist Daniel Mendelsohn reads from and comments on his new award-winning memoir about a father and son’s journey through Homer’s great epic. When eighty-one-year-old Jay Mendelsohn decides to enroll in the undergraduate Odyssey seminar his son teaches at Bard College, the two find themselves on an adventure as profoundly emotional as it is intellectual. Through the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer's great work together – first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son's interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus's famous voyages – it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too. Jay's responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last.
A book signing and reception will follow the program.
Bio: Daniel Mendelsohn is an internationally bestselling author, critic, essayist, and translator. He writes frequently for the New Yorker and The New York Review of Books and has been a columnist for BBC Culture, New York, Harpers, and The New York Times Book Review. His books include two memoirs, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006) and The Elusive Embrace: Desire and the Riddle of Identity (1999); two collections of essays; and a translation, with commentary, of the complete poems of Constantine Cavafy. His most recent memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Library Journal, Kirkus, and Newsday. He teaches literature at Bard College.
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Sponsored by the Ancient Studies Department; the Dresher Center for the Humanities; the English Department; and the Honors College.