This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 12, 2017: A Little Tooth

October 12, 2017: birthday: Robert Fitzgerald

It’s the birthday of the poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald (books by this author), born in Geneva, New York (1910), best known for his beautiful English translations of Homer’s Odyssey (1961) and The Iliad (1974). He was also an influential classics professor at Harvard, and he believed that Homer’s work should be always read aloud. One of his students said, “Every Tuesday afternoon, he’d start [class] by saying to us, ‘Listen to this, now […] It was meant to be listened to.’ The 12 of us would listen, very quiet around the blond wood table, our jittery freshman muscles gradually unclenching.”

Robert Fitzgerald described Homer as “a living voice in firelight or in the open air, a living presence bringing into life his great company of imagined persons, a master performer at his ease, touching the strings, disposing of many voices, many tones and tempos, tragedy, comedy, and glory, holding his [listeners] in the palm of his hand.”