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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

The Core Of Life Made Explicit

The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Nicolson, Adam (2014) Hardcover - Adam Nicolson


Passionate and intelligent, Nicolson’s wide-ranging exploration of the cultural phenomena that produced Homer's poetry is both a compelling personal story and an impressive piece of evidence-gathering.


His main argument is that the poems are much older than commonly believed and are the result of the encounter between migrating warrior tribes from the steppe-lands north of the Black Sea with the refined city states of the southern Mediterranean. The cultural tension this meeting generated, he argues, has given rise to a vision of extraordinary profundity.


Homer does not offer us a series of exemplars on which to base our lives, Nicholson asserts; he offers us experience itself in all its tenderness and brutality. "Homer's greatness is in its telling out of the embedded, vivid, the core of life made explicit."


Nicolson's enthusiasm is infectious, his empathy and the power of his historical imagination inspiring as he draws with admirable freedom on both scholarship and personal experience. This is one of those books that enriches your understanding of the world.