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12/15/2010

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Susan Hunziker

I read The Iliad (the Robert Fitzgerald translation) for the first time only a couple of years before the Iraq War began. Listening to those early reports of the battles, I was struck by how much the US soldiers sounded like the Greeks and Trojans, eager for glory, confident of victory. Little has changed in the millennia that separates those wars.

Susan Hunziker

Note to self: Finish coffee before posting. Should be "millennia that separate..."

Mgosselin

"The transition of the Iliad and the Odyssey to digital form for e-readers is trivial in comparison." Agreed. The first time The Iliad was written down it made a monumental change, not only to that work, but to oral culture in general. In that context, digitizing Homer is little different from publishing another print edition. And it's still a magnificent experience to "read" Homer, in any format at all.

Levi Montgomery

I'm not particularly concerned with losing humanity by placing letters on various kinds of screens instead of on paper. What concerns me far more is the death of that portion of the reading experience that comes from the things we see that aren't letters at all.

When music moved from analog recordings to digital recordings, there were people who claimed they could hear the difference, and that they would never buy a digital recording. Since it is undeniable that there is a difference, the fact that I can't hear it says nothing at all about the value of their decision, and certainly there are people who still buy only analog recordings. Now the digital quality is being eroded ever faster in search of smaller recordings or faster transfer rates.

We can see the same thing in videos, where the match-head sized pixels of some Youtube offerings seem to bother us not at all.

Carry all of this over to the ebook world, where page design, typeface choices, page embellishments, and even such mundane basics as widow and orphan control are going out the window. "No one wants all that fancy formatting," we are told. "The reader just wants your words, your story, not the little oak leaf by the page number."

If page design is irrelevant, then why have self-published authors been told for decades that their books are ugly because they don't know enough about page design? If typeface is irrelevant, then why all the animosity over Comic Sans, to name just one?

It's not the loss of humanity that worries me, it's the loss of all of the non-letters art that is interwoven into every print book. I can only hope that as the technology matures, the publishers will put these layers of art back in, and that the readers will want it.

I'm afraid, though, that it is going to be forever too late way sooner than we think.

Scieditor

Copyediting a second edition. Now, what's involved in that?

You and I agree that an editor can find something to "improve" in any published text, but what spurs a publisher to take on the expense of re-copyediting?

It must be nerve-racking to second guess a colleague's edits.

Carol Fisher Saller

Scieditor, the second edition has a completely new introduction (by a new editor) and all new commentary in the form of notes. Only Lattimore's translation and preface remain from the first edition. The translation is basically the same, but with Americanized punctuation and spelling.

EditorMoore

Thank you for your insightfull post. I have read both the Iliad and the Odyessey not only in English but also in ancient Greek. That does not make me smart but both are of such great value that any way they can be made available to people who might otherwise not read them is great. You want to read them on papyrus, feel free.

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