#224 – Daniel Mendelsohn

Author Daniel Mendelsohn sits down with Art Eddy to talk about his relationship with his father, Jay when Jay enrolled into Daniel’s course he was teaching at Bard College, fatherhood and more.

Imagine taking your 81-year-old dad to work with you–and letting him chime in with opinions and criticisms and questions! When Jay Mendelsohn decided to enroll in the undergraduate seminar his son teaches at Bard College, neither father nor son knew what adventures would ensue. This is the story of those adventures—on land and sea.

In Daniel’s book, An Odyssey we get to learn about the sometimes uncomfortable months that the two men explore Homer’s great work together–first in the classroom, where Jay persistently challenges his son’s interpretations, and then during a surprise-filled Mediterranean journey retracing Odysseus’s famous voyages–it becomes clear that Daniel has much to learn, too: Jay’s responses to both the text and the travels gradually uncover long-buried secrets that allow the son to understand his difficult father at last. As this intricately woven memoir builds to its wrenching climax, Mendelsohn’s narrative comes to echo the Odyssey itself, with its timeless themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home. Rich with literary and emotional insight, An Odyssey is a renowned author-scholar’s most triumphant entwining yet of personal narrative and literary exploration.

Daniel Mendelsohn is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. His books include the international best seller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and many other honors; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; a translation, with commentary, of the complete poems of C. P. Cavafy; and two collections of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken and Waiting for the Barbarians. He teaches literature at Bard College.

For more on Daniel go to his website at www.danielmendelsohn.com.