Emily Wilson Is the First Woman to Translate Homer's Odyssey Into English

Friday, March 30, 2018

In November, Emily Wilson, Professor of Classical Studies, became the first woman to publish an English translation of Homer's Odyssey. She was featured in The New York Times Magazine, and her work was positively reviewed in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Time, Vox, NPR, and many other outlets. Wilson also published an essay in The New Yorker about the desire of modern audiences to see empowerment of women in the tale.

“I love Homer, and I was excited about doing a translation because I felt I could do something different,” says Wilson. “I bring a gender awareness to this poem which is very much invested in, but also questioning of, androcentric values. I also wanted to bring out that it’s not just Odysseus’s story but the stories of a whole rich tapestry of characters.”

Wilson also wrote her translation in a poetic meter, something many modern translators haven’t attempted. “I aimed for it to be very easily comprehensible and speakable,” she says. “I wanted people to be able to have an immersive reading experience and be absorbed in the characters and what’s going to happen next.”

The Guardian called Wilson’s Odyssey “a new cultural landmark.” “I think because I’m living in, writing in, thinking in my particular cultural context, I’m able to see things in this old poem which maybe weren’t visible before, and I don’t think that’s about imposing something on it that isn’t there. It’s about bringing something out in it.”