Daniel Mendelsohn on Updating the Classics

From FiveBook Interviews:

The author and critic tells us how Homer is still relevant, and says that to engage with the classics on their own terms means to play with and adapt them

And the beginning of the interview:

To quote Italo Calvino, why read the classics? Why bother with them at all?

As I reach my dotage, the obvious response to that is that the classics are just good. You could equally well ask, why read Spanish literature? It’s a body of very interesting work that happens to be in Greek and Latin. Beyond that, because it is the primal literature of the West it gets you to the place where everything begins. It’s the source. It has led us to where we are now. Our kinds of plots, concerns, genres – all of them begin with the Greeks and the Romans. So anyone who has an interest in the history of literature in general would do well to study the classics.

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