The Iliad and the Odyssey – Alice and Martin Provensen

I get frustrated by the limitations of my scanner.  Illustrations often spread across both pages of a book, and its difficult to show that with a scan. So now I’m trying out a new approach – taking photographs from a tripod.  Dont have the lighting quite right yet so bear with me.

To test run my new approach, I took some pictures of a children’s version of the Iliad and the Odyssey by Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen.

This is another book I grew up with, and I spent hours pouring over these illustrations and memorising the names.  Here is the cover:

The flyleaf:

The second page introduces all the important characters – the Trojans and the Greeks, and the Gods on either side:

Here is the duel between Menelaus and Paris.

This is Menelaus:

Here are Apollo and Hera looking down on Troy:

And a scene from the battle, with the Gods along the top of the page, and the mortals at the bottom:

Here is the famous scene in which Achilles chases Hector around Troy:

I’m including only one image from the Odyssey – Odysseus in the land of the dead:

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pavinee
    Jan 25, 2010 @ 16:10:04

    Ooh! Beautiful!

    I have Penguin Classic’s The Odyssey (1999). Bought it because of it’s beautiful design and then realized that it’s too difficult and I should have found children version like this book to understand the whole story.

    I have a simplified version of The Iliad though 🙂

  2. Tim
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 20:37:57

    I grew up with this too — loved it! I wish I could find my copy. I am sure it was lost years ago.

  3. mashadutoit
    Mar 14, 2010 @ 07:21:49

    Hi Tim – You know, I’ve found so many of the lost books of my childhood in second hand bookshops and stalls. Even ones that I never believed I would find again – like this one 🙂

  4. itai
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 00:55:03

    Very cool!
    This book fascinated me as a kid too!
    I was looking for it across the web and came across your post here.
    Nice scanning!

  5. mashadutoit
    Jan 29, 2011 @ 09:43:20

    Glad you liked it too 🙂 There is something so fascinating about these ancient stories.

  6. Allan MacKinnon
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 02:54:01

    Nice photos.

    I had this book as a kid as well. I’ve never forgotten the amazing illustrations. I just picked up a used copy!

  7. Allan MacKinnon
    Feb 22, 2011 @ 04:44:13

    I also suggest taking a look at “The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends” by Anne Terry White to see even more illustrations by the Provensens.

  8. Terry Earlywine
    Feb 11, 2012 @ 23:59:36

    I have been inspired by the art in this book since I was 10 years old. It has qualities of the modern stylized illustrations of the 60s but with added organic textures in the backgrounds that art very painterly. Knowing now after the fact that these illustrations are a collaboration of 2 people makes them even more fascinating. When I was 12 I created a mosaic from the cover of the book 4’x4′ which to forever to finish. This art inspires me to this day. I would love to see the original pieces someday. If anyone knows if they are on display somewhere I would be very interested to know. Thanks for posting this!

  9. mashadutoit
    Feb 12, 2012 @ 08:36:03

    True – the original pieces would be worth seeing! Would love to know more about the process too. 🙂

  10. Mary Lenard
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 19:24:48

    I remember this book very vividly from my elementary school library & am trying to find a used/vintage copy of it, which is how I came across your post. I also recommend a book called Russian Folk Tales by H.C. Stevens, stunningly illustrated by the Finnish illustrator Aleksander Lindeberg. Lindeberg’s style in this book is very similar to the Provensens:
    Lindeberg also illustrated a version of the Finnish Kalevala, but that is apparently not available in English.

  11. pete
    May 02, 2013 @ 20:41:47

    As a child, I loved this book. It turned me into a budding archaeologist. It led me to a biography of Heinrich Schliemann, with stops along the way at comparative mythologies, anthropology, etc. …and ‘the rest is history’.

  12. mashadutoit
    May 03, 2013 @ 07:26:55

    I had to look up Heinrich Schliemann — fascinating.

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