Josef Kavalier's Odyssey: Homeric Echoes in Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Levine, Daniel B.
December 2010
International Journal of the Classical Tradition;Dec2010, Vol. 17 Issue 4, p526
Academic Journal
This paper shows that the numerous parallels between Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) and the Odyssey portray the novel's hero as a Jewish Odysseus. It illustrates how Chabon's work contains episodes, structures and character typologies that correspond to numerous exemplars in the Odyssey, including the Telemachia ( Od. 1-4), Kyklopeia ( Od. 9), Nekuia ( Od. 11), Anagnorismos ( Od. 16), Toxou Thesis / Mnesterophonia ( Od. 21-22), and the 'Wrath of Poseidon.' In addition, the novel's main female character shares similar characteristics with Penelope. A preoccupation with 'escape' is central to the novel, reflecting one of the essential themes of the epic and the specialty of its hero. Chabon himself invites a study of this sort, having recently written that the Odyssey and its hero form the original paradigm for the 'Adventure Story' - especially where Jewish characters are concerned (2007.201-203).


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