Amazon extended its Cyber Monday book promotion for nearly a week, and I have many books on my Amazon wishlist. So it should have been easy. But, I spent most of the week dithering, overwhelmed by choices.
Several history books have been on my wishlist for some time, Dan Jones’ Magna Carta, Helen Castor’s Blood and Roses and Joan of Arc, and a biography by Stephen Cooper called The Real Falstaff. The list also contains several poetry anthologies, including Stressed/Unstressed by Jonathan Bate and Paula Byrne, and a whole passel of literature, including better editions of various Shakespeare plays, Edward II by Marlowe, and Sir Thomas More by Shakespeare et. al. Finally, speaking of Shakespeare, the Norton 3rd edition in four volumes has been on my list for a few years now, but it’s expensive and $5 off is a drop in the bucket; plus even if I had it, I couldn’t get rid of my Riverside because it has all my annotations.
Well, I made my choices and pulled the trigger, and the books arrived today: Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, and the Arden third series edition of Shakespeare’s King Edward III, both in paperback. I’m thrilled with my choices.
Until today, my only Odyssey was the classic translation by W.H.D. Rouse that I read in college. It’s in narrative form, like a novel rather than an epic poem. Ever since then, I’ve wanted a translation more in an oral/performance tradition, and when Wilson’s translation came out last year it seemed like the freshest, most-vibrant version to get.
My Riverside Shakespeare has The Two Noble Kinsmen but not King Edward III, so to complete my collection of Shakespeare’s plays was a deeply satisfying decision. All the more so, because I’ve been watching Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings on DVD, a black-and-white BBC-TV series from 1960 consisting of 15 episodes and spanning the history cycle from Richard II to Richard III. Richard II was Edward III’s grandson and successor, so Edward III slots in neatly at the beginning of the cycle.
Although choosing which books to buy was agonizing, receiving these today is pure joy, no regrets.