Home as a state of mind


A lovely little reflection on The Odyssey in the Paris Review by Emily Wilson, the first woman to publish a translation.

I have lived in the United States for the past twenty years, and I turn back to the Odyssey when I try to make sense of the fact that my home is not in my native homeland. My real self is with my American family and the sunflowers I planted this year in my Philadelphia garden. At the same time, I feel a certain kinship with the little British girl I used to be, and I still love the threads in the Odyssey that appealed to her. I still love magic. I still want to be Athena—competent, powerful, and with the capacity for self-transformation. I wonder if it is possible, or even desirable, to be like Odysseus: to remain, or to become again, the person I was decades ago, or to establish a permanent sense of belonging. We all create identities for ourselves through our actions and our relationships, our disguises and our words. The Odyssey helps me think about home, less as a particular place than as a state of mind. What is it to be an insider, or an outsider? Is it about where you are or where you come from, how you behave or the stories you tell? How can strangers become friends, or the other way around?


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