Odysseus, Teller of Tales

With the first sentence of the prologue: ‘Every son is the son of a hero and every hero’s son wants to be just as great a hero as his father, greater than his father’, Imme Dros places her Odyssey squarely in the tradition of the great epic narratives. Odysseus’s wonderings are seen through different eyes, those of Telemachus who was still a baby when his father fought at Troy. There are also the contemplations of the gods who watch the mortals struggle with irony and sometimes with compassion. Obviously Dros could not and would not tamper with the facts of Homer’s narrative, but by viewing the man of a thousand devices through the emotions of Telemachus the old story acquires a new psychological dimension. What’s the good of having a hero for a father if you never get to see him? In the end every son needs a father if he is to become a man.

Children's books
Original title
Odysseus, een man van verhalen
Author
Imme Dros

For the gods Odysseus is also a teller of tales. Using modern methods to collect information, they amuse themselves with his struggles against the Cyclops, the seductive Sirens and his lengthy sojourn with Calypso. Athene is the only one who consistently stands up for the mortals and wants to turn the fate of Odysseus, Telemachus and Penelope in a more favourable direction. The gods communicate via cordless telephones or VDU’s and use modern day networking techniques. You do something for me and I’ll do something for you.

Both Telemachus’s journey in search of his father and the behaviour of the gods are a sign of the passage of time. The longer Odysseus is away from home, the more urgent is the need for Telemachus to discover his own identity and to perform a heroic deed. Penelope may well turn out to be the powerful woman that, according to her tricks, she always has been. Helena is more a seductive schemer than the victim of her lovers’ passion. Odysseus stays true to Homer’s image of him: an adventurer, hedonist and braggart, but also a man of many talents, with a sense of responsibility and compassion.

Imme Dros composed her Odyssey for young people in a most original way, and the interaction between gods and mortals is also skilfully depicted. For the young reader this is an excellent introduction to the story of Odysseus, but for adults too, who just want to immerse themselves in Homer’s world, this book is a must.

De Standaard

With her compelling and particularly lucid style of writing, Imme Dros is able to make the story really accessible. She has chosen to use contemporary language in this adaptation. Imme Dros’s treatment will certainly makes young readers curious about the real Odyssey.

Leeuwarder Courant

Publishing details
Odysseus, een man van verhalen (1995)
212 pages

Publisher
Querido Kind

Imme Dros
Imme Dros (Texel, 1936) studied Dutch language and literature in Amsterdam, where she met her husband, illustrator Harrie Geelen.
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