London, South Kensington
7 June 2005
MORRIS, William (1834-96), translator. The Odyssey of Homer. London: Reeves & Turner, 1887. 2 volumes, 8° (vol. I with browning to half title, and with a sprig of mint pressed between pp. 150-151, leaving faint and highly decorative marks on both pages). Original parchment-backed blue boards (spines worn, covers detached). PRESENTATION COPY, half-title to vol. I inscribed, "To Ford Maddox [sic] Brown from William Morris".
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY TO FORD MADOX BROWN. Morris had begun his translation by Christmas 1885, employing long, loose rhyming couplets. To many people it would have been a life's work. But he proceeded with a nonchalance that could only derive from great familiarity with the original text, taking his translation wherever he travelled and "getting it out like a bag of knitting". The first volume was published in April 1887 and the second in November. "The most interesting thing about it is the evidence it gives of Morris's continuing fascination with the idea of the quest, the journey through outlandish territory, impelled onwards by some supernatural force" (Fiona MacCarthy, William Morris, 1994, p. 564).
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