Leaving aside the works of scholars proper, such as Pierre Grimal , Jean-Pierre Vernant , Albin Lesky or Walter Burkert and other referents of the discipline, those of more heterodox mythologists such as Robert Graves or Joseph Campbell , or those of wise and excellent popularizers like our Carlos Garcia Gual, there are many others that intend to transfer the old stories of the gods and heroes of ancient Greece to a wide audience, in fact increasingly wide, while the diminishing presence of that legacy has been reduced to a marginal area in current teaching programs. Expelled from the classroom, the myths that have accompanied us for millennia need alternative ways to continue projecting their fruitful mark on Western culture , much of which is unintelligible if we do not have a minimum knowledge of what those stories narrated, mirror of a disappeared civilization that has never died completely. We have demanding approaches, such as the wonderful ones by Roberto Calasso, and others that are simpler and more accessible, but all of them are directed to the same necessary goal of guaranteeing their survival.
Fry’s fascination goes back to the childhood reading of a volume of ‘Stories of Ancient Greece’
This Mythos would belong to the second group where Stephen Fry , the restless English actor, screenwriter and writer, whose multifaceted talent is beyond doubt, has overturned a fascination that goes back, he tells us in the preamble, to the childhood reading of a compilation volume of Histories of Ancient Greece that awakened ” love at first sight ” in him. We admire Fry for his intelligence and his sharp sense of humor, so characteristically British. Just for having embodied the best Oscar Wildepart of the story, partly due to his striking physical resemblance but above all due to the special empathy of the interpreter towards his character, he would deserve the gratitude of the devotees of the Irish dandy, who was, as is known, a great Philhellenic. There are other books by Fry available in Spanish, including the novel El mentiroso, also published by Anagrama , and it is not unlikely that Mythos (2017 in its English edition) will be followed by what, judging by the title, seems like an extension or immediate continuation. , Heroes. Mortal and Monsters (Penguin Books, 2018). But despite its beautiful and striking cover, and despite the more than correct writing, the book is in our opinion, perhaps because we expected more from Fry, only average or even relatively disappointing.
It is not enough to recount the myths with ease to fully reflect the richness of the original stories Paratexts
do not help, which alternate excessive praise with shocking mentions such as the one that compares the work to a “Hollywood blockbuster” or assimilates its content to that of the successful series Game of Thrones, but the problem comes from the contrast between the correct preliminary considerations and the development of a story that does not contribute much to the accounts available in any language. In relation to the recreated stories, Fry rightly speaks of “the energy, the humor, the passion, the particularity, and the believable precision of their world.” He rightly states that Greek mythology“there’s nothing academic or intellectual about it at all; it’s addictive, entertaining, accessible, and amazingly human,” given that the Greeks, in effect, “created gods in their own image and likeness.” And he rightly concludes that, in the case of myths, “pleasure is the crux of the matter.” But if the singularity of Greek mythology comes from having been the product of the “creation of great poets”, as Fry says, quoting the American Hellenist Edith Hamilton , it is not enough to recount them with agility and ease to reflect in all its breadth the richness of the original stories.
Proof of the great weight that classical studiesthey continue to have in English education, from where its reflection in literature, the arts or even the discourse of politicians, although these are as disastrous as the current premier, Fry’s book reads well and is not lacking in entertainment or occasional comic finds , but being a recommendable book for “those who have never come across characters or stories of Greek myth”, it is regrettable that the author has not been able to please more readers who already know them. dialogues between the gods, for example, would perhaps work in a television sketch, but when read they turn out –as in general the monologues of comedians, supported in the interpretation by gestural resources that cannot be transferred to writing– less funny than banal. It is of course appreciated that such a popular and justly respected figure of the scene applies his unquestionable charisma to spread the episodes of Greek mythology, but we would be lying if we said that the result would completely satisfy those who look in the books – as the Greeks themselves did. in their myths – something more than entertainment.

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