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The Odyssey

by Homer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Homer's Epic Cycle (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
42,71639425 (4.03)5 / 1199
Homer's best-loved poem, recounting Odysseus' wanderings after the Trojan War. With wit and wile, Odysseus meets the challenges of gods and monsters.
  1. 302
    The Iliad by Homer (caflores)
  2. 242
    The Aeneid by Publius Virgilius Maro (caflores)
  3. 152
    The King Must Die by Mary Renault (alalba)
  4. 60
    Homer's Daughter by Robert Graves (MarcusBrutus)
    MarcusBrutus: Robert Graves took the story of "The Odyssey's" authorship and expounds on the theory that it was written by a woman. This is a novel based on that idea.
  5. 126
    Ulysses by James Joyce (chrisharpe)
  6. 62
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Gawain Poet (chrisharpe)
  7. 62
    The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: Only Greece's greatest modern writer would have the nerve and ability to send Odysseus back on his journeying.
  8. 20
    Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation by Richard Hakluyt (KayCliff)
  9. 20
    The quest for Ulysses by W. B. Stanford (Michael.Rimmer)
  10. 43
    The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason (slickdpdx)
  11. 10
    Antigone; Oedipus Rex; Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles (chwiggy)
  12. 32
    The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson (chrisharpe)
  13. 87
    Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing (BookWallah)
    BookWallah: Odysseus & Shackleton both had travails getting home from their epic voyages. Differences in their stories: The former’s took 17 years, lost all his men, & was told as epic poetry. The latter’s took 16 months, saved all his men, & is told as gripping biography.… (more)
  14. 01
    T. E. Lawrence : translating the Bruce Rogers 'Odyssey' by T. E. Lawrence (KayCliff)
  15. 12
    Stories from Homer by Alfred J. Church (KayCliff)
  16. 37
    The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan (Jitsusama)
    Jitsusama: An ancient classic revolving around Greek Myth. A great help to better understand the mythology of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
  17. 510
    Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson (KayCliff)
Europe (133)
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English (329)  Spanish (25)  Dutch (8)  Catalan (7)  Italian (5)  French (4)  Danish (3)  Portuguese (3)  Swedish (3)  Russian (1)  German (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (390)
Showing 1-5 of 329 (next | show all)
Video review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cppQTaDZj8M



This is only my second reading of Homer's Odyssey, my first pass being with the Fagles translation, prompted mostly by my pursuit of Joyce's great novel, [b:Ulysses|338798|Ulysses|James Joyce|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1428891345l/338798._SY75_.jpg|2368224]. Despite my preference for the former installment, the Iliad, it is this epic that is more popular, or at least more hooked into the popular collective consciousness. Joyce's aforementioned novel, of course, takes part in this bolstering of the epic's lingering presence, but popular entertainment like the Coen brothers' 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? are also indebted to the masterpiece of Odysseus' journey home from Troy. On a more thematic level, as Clifton Fadiman states in his admirable reading plan, "...the search of his son Telemachus for his father...[is] a theme repeated in hundreds of novels since..." (7). Moving from Iliad to Odyssey, then, we move from learning of the attribute of a man (wrath) to hearing of a man himself (Odysseus). As Fadiman goes on to point out: "...the Odyssey is not tragic [like the Iliad]. It stresses not our limitations but our possibilities" (7).

Harold Bloom is always a good source to get a feel for the Western texts he loves, and Homer is certainly an accepted artist for the highly discerning and biased critic. I turn to his remarks in his useful Interpretations series of scholarly essays. "The Iliad, in fierce agon with the Bible, has set our standards for sublimity, but the Odyssey has been the more focused work, particularly in modern literature." Why is this? Per Bloom, it is simple: "Stories exist to defer death, and Odysseus is a grand evader of mortality." Indeed, the hero of the Odyssey is an emblem of Freud's reality principle in action. Achilles has taken a lot of trouncing over the centuries for pouting, withdrawing into his tent, and letting countless Achaians die; but Odysseus is the more typical modern idea of a hero who, like an ancient Greek MacGyver, is always thinking and solving problems (of course, there is the fact that he has a goddess, Athena, on his side), and is always looking out for his own people. Perhaps this alone is why Leland Ryken in [b:Realms of Gold: The Classics in Christian Perspective|2090234|Realms of Gold The Classics in Christian Perspective (Wheaton Literary Series)|Leland Ryken|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1266533205l/2090234._SY75_.jpg|101290] says that "Odysseus is, along with some of the characters of the Bible, the dominant character of Western literature" (24).

So different (yet so similar) is this book to its predecessor that there has spawned an endless and inconclusive debate of authorship akin only to the Shakespeare-Bacon argument. For a full treatment of most of the theories available, one cannot do better than to check out Alberto Manguel's book [b:Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey: A Biography|1579091|Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey A Biography|Alberto Manguel|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1328774640l/1579091._SY75_.jpg|2920312]. Manguel covers the full thrust of all the conjectures from Homer never having existed at all, to the variations of Homers, to Homer as an idea that each of us, as readers, construct. I tend to side with translator Richmond Lattimore in his introduction to the text in question:

Or I can think of an old master, called Homer, mainly responsible for the Iliad; and a young master, favored apprentice and poetic heir; perhaps a nephew or son-in-law; also going by the name, or assuming the name, of Homer; and mainly responsible for the Odyssey. I find...[this] combination more persuasive, but that is all I can say for it. (22)

One of the myths surrounding Homer (or "Homer") is his blindness. If we consider this against the text, there are a couple of strong arguments for its validity. First and foremost, though this epic is not a war narrative, there is a scene of raw, graphic brutality concerning the eyes (or: eye) that stands out alongside a kindred segment of Iliad. Compare the following narration with Iliad Book XIV, lines 493-499:

So seizing the fire-point-hardened timber we twirled it
in his eye, and the blood boiled around the hot point, so that
the blast and scorch of the burning ball singed all his eyebrows
and eyelids, and the fire made the roots of his eye crackle. (Odyssey, Book IX, lines 387-390)

We also meet the character Demodocus, about whom it is told the Muse loved and "reft him of his eyes, but she gave him the sweet singing art" (123). This court minstrel regales listeners with sweet songs indeed, just as the reputedly blind Homer regales us down to this day. Between the preoccupation in both epics with vividly-detailed ocular carnage and the inclusion of a blind singer favored by the Muse, could it be that perhaps Homer (or "Homer") inserted himself into the narrative?

The Odyssey gives us a lot of material for intellectual fodder that has been a major source for our knowledge of ancient Greek culture. I will touch on a handful of main points that either countered my presumptions of the culture or challenged something that was formerly simplistic, such as the clear lines between free well and determinism. For starters, Zeus himself speaks in the first book of the epic, saying, "Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame upon us / gods, for they say evils come from us, but it is they, rather, / who by their own recklessness win sorrow beyond what is given" (28). What an amazing point from a culture that attributed so much to the gods! Are we seeing the seeds of forthcoming humanism? And whereas the Iliad praised the body and emotions, here the mind is lauded: "How could I forget Odysseus the godlike, he who / is beyond all other men in mind...?" (29); and again, Athena reveres Odysseus because "Always you are the same, and such is the mind within you, / and so I cannot abandon you when you are unhappy, / because you are fluent, and reason closely, and keep your head always" (206). These are the qualities of a proper Stoic! Lastly for this curt little section, I argue that Odyssey is the first ever Bildungsroman. Athena prompts Telemachus to leave Ithaca because it is time to grow up: "You should not go on / clinging to your childhood" (34). The impetus for this launch into adulthood is, of course, the pressures of the gluttonous suitors at home prompting him to find his father, but this cause is made sublime by a single, powerful statement that precedes Athena's promptings: "Nobody really knows his own father" (32).

As we see so far, the Odyssey is much more than a series of adventures. It is a multilayered identity tale. Twenty years have elapsed since Penelope and Odysseus were comfortably enmeshed in daily pursuits in Ithaca. It has been ten years since the fateful end of Troy. Tales of death and horrific homecomings (Agamemnon's, as later expounded by Aeschylus in [b:The Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides|1519|The Oresteia Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides|Aeschylus|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1391822282l/1519._SY75_.jpg|2378]) have been circulating, ramping up the tension. The suitors are literally consuming everything that belongs to Odysseus as they also pursue Odysseus' very wife. Think of the swirl of confused identities. Penelope, in a very Scheherazade-like fashion, devises to hold off her fate by weaving and unweaving in secret at her loom (until found out). Telemachus struggles to understand how he can defend his father's estate and keep his mother cared for. Odysseus, marooned as Calypso's sex save and tempted with immortal life, passes year after year guarding his heart for home and wondering if he will ever see it again.

Book XI presents a precursor to my next selection for this year's pillars of Western literature, Dante's [b:The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1: Inferno|19155|The Divine Comedy, Vol. 1 Inferno|Dante Alighieri|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1520340643l/19155._SY75_.jpg|2377563]: a journey to Hades and a sort of catalog of the personages there. Of those Odysseus encounters in the underworld, we converse with both Achilles and Agamemnon--the very stars of the Iliad! Much criticism has been written on these two encounters, and I don't presume to add anything novel, but perhaps the richest and shortest treatment of Odysseus' katabasis is found in Margalit Finkelberg's "Odysseus and the Genus 'Hero'." Contrasting the qualities of a hero found in the two Homeric epics, Finkelberg concludes that the first epic shows how to die and the second shows how to live (that is, in terms of ancient Greek honor). The conclusion is that, with consideration of the interaction of Odysseus with Achilles and Agamemnon in Hades, it is the Odyssey's version of heroism that accords with popular Greek conception of hero-worship.

When I think of the ending of this epic, I am always pulled in different directions. For all of the build-up of trying to return home, I never expect the outright slaughter that ends the tale. Not to mention the roundabout means by which we get to the slaughter. Odysseus, perhaps echoing the famous strategy of the Trojan horse, conceals himself within the guise of a beggar and penetrates the heart of the city, his palace. It is during this final segment that we find the moment made popular in academic circles by Eric Auerbach--Odysseus' scar. We also have a Willem Tell-like contest, to use an anachronism, where Odysseus finally reveals himself with his own bow. In the end, however, all the doors are locked and all the suitors and despoilers and accomplices are slaughtered. The victims' families are outraged and seek to kill Odysseus, but everything is halted (by Athena, surprise surprise) and a peaceful agreement is reached. Despite everything that has gone on throughout the epic, it is the soul of Agamemnon, who pronounces Odysseus fortunate because he has "won yourself a wife endowed with great virtue" (350). So, in the end, it seems we are not too far from the roots of the Iliadic tensions and values, namely the Achilles-Briseis-Agamemnon and Menalaus-Helen-Paris conflicts. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
This is a clear translation in prose, rather then verse. I found it to be interesting to read - I have read other versions in the past. The story takes a bit to get going, and there is a lull in the back third as well. However, it is still fun to read, and references many other myths. ( )
  quinton.baran | Mar 29, 2021 |
3*
this was about what I expected it to be. There was a lot of Flowery language and there were some parts that were a bit repetitive. it was a bit difficult to keep the character straight but I think part of that was because I chose to listen to it versus read it myself. I'm able to recognize characters names a lot easier by the first couple letters of their names if they are not a familiar name to me and just listening to the names being spoken made it difficult to keep track of who is being referred to. I was familiar with certain parts of the story already so that made listening to it a bit easier to follow. ( )
  courty4189 | Mar 24, 2021 |
Great story, but such a terrible translation.

God, Heaven, Hell, and I think even the Devil make an appearance. I kept expecting Jesus to show up walking across the water to convey Odysseus home. Plus it's written as if this tale takes place in the British Isles rather than the Mediterranean.

I'm not going to force myself to slog through another dated mistranslation. Life is too short for that. ( )
  SGTCat | Feb 25, 2021 |
Cool story. ( )
  SGTCat | Feb 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 329 (next | show all)
In this interview, we discuss how her [Wilson's] identity as a woman—and a cis-gendered feminist—informs her translation work, how her Odyssey translation honors both ancient traditions and contemporary reading practices, and what Homer meant when he called Dawn, repeatedly, “rosy-fingered.”
 
(Emily Wilson translation): To read a translation is like looking at a photo of a sculpture: It shows the thing, but not from every angle. Like every translator, Wilson brings out some features more clearly than others. But altogether it’s as good an “Odyssey” as one could hope for.
 
The verse idiom of the 20th century does not allow poets to create a grand style, but Mr. Fagles has been remarkably successful in finding a style that is of our time and yet timeless, dignified and yet animated by the vigor and energy essential to any good rendering of this poem. ... This book is a memorable achievement, and the long and excellent introduction by Bernard Knox is a further bonus, scholarly but also relaxed and compellingly readable. Mr. Fagles's translation of the ''Iliad'' was greeted by a chorus of praise when it appeared; his ''Odyssey'' is a worthy successor.
 

» Add other authors (1075 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aafjes, BertusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ameis, Karl FriedrichEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ģiezens, AugustsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Østbye, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bendz, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Björkeson, IngvarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boutens, P.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Buckland-Wright, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burkert, WalterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butcher, Samuel HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Butler, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calzecchi Onesti, RosaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cauer, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chapman, Georgesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Christian, AntonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Church, Alfred JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Codino, FaustoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coornhert, Dierick Volckertsz.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cullen, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Danes, ClaireNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dimock, George E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dros, ImmeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Due, Otto SteenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dugas-Montbel, Jean-BaptisteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Erni, HansIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fagles, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fitzgerald, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaxman, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fridrihsons, KurtsIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fuchs, J.W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gelsted, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gertz, Martin ClarentiusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hentze, CarlEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Peter V.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirk, G. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knox, BernardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagerlöf, ErlandTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lattimore, RichmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, T. E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linkomies, EdwinPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lombardo, StanleyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Loomis, Louise RopesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lucas, F. L.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mandelbaum, AllenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manninen, OttoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mühll, Peter von derEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKellen, IanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merry, W. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, Walter JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montbel, DugasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pabón, José ManuelEditor literariosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palmer, George HerbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pindemonte, IppolitoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pope, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porter, Howard N.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rasovsky, YuriNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rees, EnnisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riba, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, D. C. H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rieu, E. V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rouse, W. H. D.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saarikoski, PenttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Segalà i Estalella, LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, T. E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shewring, WalterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Squillace, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinmann, KurtTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stolpe, JanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Svenbro, JesperForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmerman, Aegidius W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voss, Johann HeinrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Way, Arthur S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilding, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, Emily R.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Important events
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Epigraph
Dedication
To my daughters, Imogen, Psyche, and Freya (Emily Wilson)
First words
The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound;
Who, when his arms had wrought the destined fall
Of sacred Troy, and razed her heaven-built wall,
Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
Their manners noted, and their states survey'd,
On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore. (Alexander Pope)
Musa, quell'uom di moltiforme ingegno
Dimmi, che molto errò, poich'ebbe a terra
Gittate d'Ilion le sacre torri;
The Man, O Muse, informe that many a way
Wound with his wisedome to his wished stay;
That wanderd wondrous farre when He the towne
Of sacred Troy had sackt and shiverd downe.
The cities of a world of nations,
With all their manners, mindes and fashions,
He saw and knew; at Sea felt many woes,
Much care sustaind, to save from overthrowes
Himselfe and friends in their retreate for home. (George Chapman)
Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home. (Samuel Butler)
Tell me, Muse, of the man of many ways, who was driven
far journeys, after he had sacked Troy's sacred citadel.
Many were they whose cities he saw, whose minds he learned of,
many the pains he suffered in his spirit on the wide sea,
struggling for his own life and the homecoming of his companions. (Richmond Lattimore)
Quotations
But by this earth, and by the sky above, and by the waters of the Styx below, which is the strongest oath for blessed gods..." - Calypso, Book 5
... a woman slaving at her quern, in the mill-room attached to the palace of the people's shepherd. There all day twelve women strove their hardest, grinding barley-meal and flour, the marrow of man's strength. (Book XX)
I live in pellucid Ithaca, the island of Mount Neriton, whose upstanding slopes are all a-quiver with the wind-blown leaves. About it lie many other islands very near to one another. My island stands deep in the sea and nearer the west than its neighbours which rather face the dawning and the sun. It is a harsh land, yet it breeds good youths.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Original language
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Homer's best-loved poem, recounting Odysseus' wanderings after the Trojan War. With wit and wile, Odysseus meets the challenges of gods and monsters.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The Odyssey is the epic poem about the great adventurer Odysseus. After the great fall of Troy, Odysseus has some difficulties finding his way back to Ithaca. He encounters sirens, giants and many other mythical creatures and it takes him 10 years to find his way home. I enjoyed this book because it of the mythology and the adventure that it portrays and I think it is a good read.

AR Level 10.3, 24 pts
Historical Italian translation of Homer's Odyssey. Ippolito Pindemonte (1753-1828) thought that the Odyssey, although lacking the force and beauty of the Iliad, was poetically much nearer to his soul than the Iliad.
Durante il ritorno dalla guerra di Troia, un destino crudele prende a bersagliare Odisseo (Ulisse, per i latini) e i suoi compagni: la loro patria, l'isola di Itaca, pare allontanarsi per sempre, il viaggio sembra impossibile. Lucido e ostinato, pronto a tutto, Odisseo ricorda, previene e si oppone alla sorte, pur di approdare al porto natale e riprendere in pugno il proprio mondo. Ma quel mondo è cambiato, ed è cambiato anche lui. Prefazione di Fausto Codino.
(piopas)
Haiku summary
Greek hero of Troy
Takes long time getting back home
Having adventures.
(pickupsticks)
Son wants his Paw home;
Paw away on business trip—
Sneaks home for bloodbath.
(LeBoeuf)

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140268863, 0143039954, 0140449116, 0451530683, 0141192445

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