A Closer Look At Obama's Odyssey

On January 18, 2009, Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic, described the structure of Barack Obama's 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, as "a quest in which [Obama] cast himself as both a Telemachus in search of his father and an Odysseus in search of a home."Three weeks earlier, I had argued on these pages ("The Improvised Odyssey of Barack Obama," December 28, 2008) that in Dreams Obama "assumes the role of both Telemachus and Odysseus, the son seeking the father, and the father seeking home."  Although I could find no prior reference to this specific Homeric interpretation, I seriously doubt if Ms. Kakutani purloined my thesis, especially given her conclusion that Dreams was "the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president."  She apparently inferred the Homeric structure in reading the text, as did I. Thanks to Christopher Andersen's new book, Barack and...(Read Full Article)

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