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Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Homer's Daughter
Book cover for Homer's Daughter

Introduction by Michael Wood

Robert Graves’s bold and presciently feminist novel about the life of Nausicaa, the young woman he believed authored the Odyssey

Homer’s Daughter is Robert Graves’ novel of the young Nausicaa, a character in the Odyssey, who Graves believed was its true author (not the blind and bearded Homer, whose Iliad was composed at least 150 years before.... ). That Homer did not write the Odyssey continues to be a bold historical and literary claim. Add to it Graves’s protofeminist heroine, and a radical modern classic is born. 

In his Historical Note, Graves says the novel “re-creates, from internal and external evidence, the circumstances which induced Nausicaa to write the Odyssey, and suggests how, as an honorary Daughter of Homer, she managed to get it included in the official canon. . . . “Here is the story of a high-spirited and religious-minded Sicilian girl who saves her father’s throne from usurpation, herself from a distasteful marriage, and her two younger brothers from butchery by boldly making things happen, instead of sitting still and hoping for the best.”

Book cover for Homer's Daughter
Book cover for Homer's Daughter

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Homer’s Daughter deserves attention for its sly commentary on the genre of historical fiction; its complex relationship to Homer’s Odyssey; and its spirited protagonist, a young woman whose adventures as a lover and a poet diverge from the painful experiences that Graves attributes to male poets . . . . By presenting his modern novel as more authentic than the ancient epic, Graves wittily addresses theoretical questions about representing the past.”

Robert Graves

Robert Graves (1895–1985) was a preeminent English poet, novelist, critic, translator, and scholar of classical mythology. He served in World War I—an experience recounted in his 1929 autobiography, Good-Bye to All That—and later became the first professor of English literature at the University of Cairo. Best remembered today for his acclaimed historical novels about the Roman emperor Claudius, I, Claudius and Claudius the God, his other books include Count Belisarius, Lawrence and the Arabs, They Hanged My Saintly Billy, Homer's Daughter, The Golden Fleece, The Siege and Fall of Troy, Ann at Highwood Hall, The White GoddessThe Hebrew Myths, and Collected Poems. He is also the co-author of The Reader Over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose. 

Michael Wood is professor emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton, and the author, most recently, of Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much (2015), On Empson (2017), and The Habits of Distraction (2018). 

Other books by Robert Graves