May 30, 2018
"Daniel Mendelsohn is an internationally bestselling author, critic, essayist, and translator. Born in New York City in 1960, he received degrees in Classics from the University of Virginia and Princeton. After completing his PhD, he moved to New York City, where he began freelance writing full time; since 1991 he has been a prolific contributor of essays, reviews, and articles to many publications, particularly The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books."
His multi-award winning books include The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006); a memoir, The Elusive Embrace (1999); two collections of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken (2008) and Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays From the Classics to Pop Culture (2012); a scholarly study of Greek tragedy, Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays (2002); a two-volume translation of the poetry of C. P. Cavafy (2009), which included the first English translation of the poet’s “Unfinished Poems.
Daniel was in Montreal attending the Blue Met Literary Festival when we met to talk about, among other things, his latest book, An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (2017); the Greek view of the universe; disasters; Odysseus being a jerk; readers and texts; Homer, The Odyssey and anthropology; the fluidity of human identity, and its multiplex, relational nature; time; bored Gods; death and meaning; fathers; New Criticism; autobiography in criticism; being intelligent and interesting versus being right; robots and objectivity; self-knowledge and literature; open heart surgery; stupid good reviews; why memoir is such a strong form; Oprah and shared emotion; Cavafy; preserving culture; crazy families; truth, tragedy and myths; the Titanic, the Kennedys and glamour.