Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Top 10 war stories

Karl Marlantes, who served as a marine in Vietnam and was awarded numerous medals including two Purple Hearts, is the author of Matterhorn, a novel about his experience of combat in the jungle.

He named his top ten war stories for the Guardian. One entry on the list:
The Iliad by Homer

I have to confess I first read this in a Classics Comic Book version. What struck me then – I was about eight or nine – was that the author actually thought that the Trojans weren't morally any better or worse than the Greeks. Maybe a little better, in fact, but I'm half-Greek so that was hard to swallow. It was only after I'd been in a war myself that I read the actual epic, and I did it in both Robert Fitzgerald's and Richmond Lattimore's translations. On those readings I was struck by the changelessness of the experience, no matter the technology, and the utter randomness of it all, in Homer personified by the intervention of the gods.
Read about another title on the list.

The Iliad also appears on James Anderson Winn's five best list of works of war poetry and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best funerals in literature and ten of the best examples of ekphrasis.

Also see: five best books about soldiers at war and five best works of war poetry.

--Marshal Zeringue