A Los Angeles Times Best Book
All Day Permanent Red is the fourth book in Christopher Logue's brilliant and ongoing translation of Homer's Iliad. Logue's work in progress, a free-ranging, decidedly modern version of the epic that has been unfolding for decades, has been called "the best translation of Homer since Pope's" (The New York Review of Books).
In this volume of rugged, intense, descriptive verse, we witness the first clashes of the two armies. Here we encounter the doomed Hector, a lion-warrior, "slam-scattering the herd" at the height of his powers. Here we find the Greek army rising to its feet with the sound of "a raked sky-wide Venetian blind." And here we glimpse a single arrow's tunnel-like wake, "the width of a lipstick," as it cuts through a man's neck. Much like Homer himself, Logue is quick to mix the ancient and new, the sacred and profane, the lyrical and gruesome. Moreover, Logue's narrative poem occurs, as does Homer's, in a Troy that exists outside of time—a classical, eternal terrain.
Like no other translator or scholar of The Iliad, Logue exhibits a truly Homeric interest in, and sensitivity to, the universal or mythic truths of battle—and the absurdity and sublimity of war.
"Logue breathes more life into Homer than just about anyone working in English. Candidly ignorant of Greek, he is free of the need to be faithful or even adequate to the original, focusing on the English results. And the results are impressive. Few have made of classical poetry something as vital and immediate. Logue is able to capture the strangeness and sinew of Homer in a distinctively contemporary voice . . . Logue's ear is fine and he has produced passages of remarkable poetry . . . [This] book is thrilling to read, and gives us the Iliad in startling and fresh ways."—John Tipton, Chicago Review
"Brilliantly original, consummately crafted English verse, dominated but by no means constrained by iambic pentameter and, secondarily, fabulous Homer . . . The cumulative effect is to bring the ethos of Homer to life for English speakers with a vigor and immediacy that surpasses every available modern translation. Logue's Homer satisfies the first requirement of a classic: It is a work completely unlike any that came before it. It solves one of the thorniest problems of translation, faithfulness to the original, simply by ignoring it—by being not a translation but rather an imaginative re-creation. And perhaps the greatest testament to the success of Logue's poetical enterprise is the enthusiastic following he has attracted among classical scholars . . . From [George] Chapman to the present day, the scholars and poets who have rendered The Iliad into English have abased themselves before Homer, attempting what may be impossible, to capture the essence of the Greek poetry in their own idiom. Yet Logue, with unfaltering confidence, sets his own poetic vision supreme and treats the original text as a continuous flowing river of source material, parallel but subordinate . . . [This is] poetry that shines with greatness."—Jamie James, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"All Day Permanent Red isn't for traditionalists, those offended by wholesale changes to a familiar text. Decrying Logue's modern references and seemingly capricious additions and subtractions, however, would miss his remarkable achievement. This Iliad is modern but still recognizable. Logue's accomplishment shows a true appreciation for The Iliad. Rather than competing with Homer, he highlights the elements we are familiar with and those we sometimes overlook. His slashing sentences and striking imagery combine to tell the same story Homer told—a tale of human values set against the backdrop of war."—Steven Martinovich, The Christian Science Monitor
"The mounting pressure of a city siege, two politician-generals invoking gods, the amount of dust in the Middle East—this version of the first skirmishes in the Iliad has the immediacy of an embed's dispatches. Logue, a veteran of the Second World War, has been freely translating Homer since 1959. His verse displays a gift for the unexpected simile . . . The music in [this] latest installment is wild and improvisational: 'That unpremeditated joy as you / — the Uzi shuddering warm against your hip / Happy in danger in a dangerous place / Yourself another self you found at Troy — / Squeeze nickel through that rush of Greekoid scum!' But the final note is hushed, when, after the battle, we see the ridge overlooking the Trojan plain: 'save for a million footprints, / Empty now.'"—The New Yorker
"Set at no particular time and incorporating references to 2,000-plus years of Western history, this is the fourth installment from British poet and playwright Logue of his version of The Iliad (the significantly, even gratuitously, more violent of Homer's two epics). Logue began the series in the late 1950s and last added to it with The Husbands in 1995. Like Anne Carson's updatings of myth, Logue's Homer is less a translation than a channeling, articulating its essences through [phrases such as] 'blood like a car wash' and 'teenaged Athena.' Logue strikes a terrific balance between poetic elevation and abject stupidity, conveying at once the terrible power and terrible banality of violence . . . This book's brilliant cover montage somehow makes three framed shots of the back of a police van spell out 'Spoils' and 'Polis'—an excellent introduction to the mordant puns and rapid-fire sonic play to be found within."—Publishers Weekly
"In the same way that Al Pacino, via Looking for Richard, helped contemporary audiences to comprehend the deepest darkness of Shakespeare's Richard III, so has Logue captured the glorious magisterial gutter of Homeric violence. We are given a taste. The performance serves to whet our appetites for the whole epic and not only these opening, rending scenes."—The Common Review
"'Logue's Homer,' as it is called in England, has been an ongoing literary project [for decades]. More than a translator, the poet re-imagines the various books of The Iliad, inventing new scenes and infusing the whole with a modern tone and voice. This volume, the fourth excerpt from the work-in-progress to appear in the U.S., tackles the first battle scenes in Homer's poem, most of which occur in books five and six. In muscular, freewheeling lines that flash across the battlefield with the sweep of a film director's camera, Logue jumps between wide-angle shots of the strip of land, 30 yards wide, on which the battle is contested, and close-ups of the combatants: Diomedes 'S-curving' through the Trojans, or Palt, one of Diomedes' victims, 'holding the slick blue-greenish loops of his intestines.' We see the horror of war, but we also feel, just as vividly and appallingly, the 'unpremeditated joy' of it . . . The contemporary references may offend purists, but they help drive home the universality of Homer's vision, jarring us at first and then seeming exactly right. [This book] is both a marvelous tribute and a work of prodigious originality."—Bill Ott, Booklist (starred review)