Sounding Out Homer: Christopher Logue’s Acoustic Homer
- Volume 24, Number 2
- Emily Greenwood
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Christopher Logue’s adaptations of Homer’s Iliad go by the collective title of War Music, hinting at the importance of sound for Logue’s conception of the project. This article examines Logue’s Homer in the context of other contemporary translators of Homer who have all sought, in various ways, to produce translations that bring Homer to life. In Logue’s case, performance is a vital part of this enlivening, resulting in a poem with an intrinsic oral dimension, which is reproduced on the page via various typographical cues and reinforced by the poem’s performance history on radio and stage. In this essay the soundscape of Logue’s Homer is illustrated by a detailed case study of a single scene from Book 16 of the Iliad, in which the sound effects present in the Homeric simile are amplified. It considers the paradox of attributing aural fidelity to a free adaptation of Homer, before concluding that Logue’s adaptation can make us more attuned to the acoustic potential of Homer. Conversely, the tension between writing and oral genres inherent in Homeric epic can lead us to a better understanding of the relationship between the written and spoken word in Logue’s Homer.