Skip to main content Skip to navigation

EN101 Epic into Novel - Honours Variants – EN2J4/EN3J4


Convenor: Dr John West


Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey will be performed and streamed live on Friday 9th October via the LRB and Jermyn Street Theatre Youtube channels. The 12-hr performance will stay up for a week afterwards. More details here: This will be a great opportunity to see the epic that we'll be reading extracts from in Week 7 in performance!

Module Information

On this module you will read a selection of ancient and modern, European, Indian and English epics. You will learn about the transition from the epic to the novel which became the principal world-wide form of narrative from the eighteenth century onwards. You will read a selection of classic English novels and a modern African novel and will develop your skills in analysing narrative, character and style. This module will prepare you for further work on novels and long poems later in the degree. Students are advised to read The Iliad and Middlemarch over the summer.

Texts to Buy

These are the main texts for the module for 2020-21. You must read all these texts complete (and the set extracts from The Mahabharata and The Odyssey). It is important that you read the translations set.


  • Homer, The Iliad, trans. Caroline Alexander (Vintage).
  • The Mahabharata, trans. J. D. Smith (Penguin Classics)
  • Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson (Norton)
  • Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (Everyman).


  • John Milton, Paradise Lost (in The Norton Anthology 10th ed Vol B - 16th/Early 17th Century - this is the same anthology you will be using or have used for Medieval to Renaissance English Literature)
  • Henry Fielding, Tom Jones (Penguin) or any other modern edition
  • George Eliot, Middlemarch (Penguin) or any other modern edition


  • Ngugi wa Thiongo, A Grain of Wheat (Penguin)

Further reading

A detailed bibliography for the module can be found through the Library here.

There will be an introductory meeting on Friday 9th October, 10am - 11am, for people taking, or planning to take, Epic Into Novel. The meeting will be on Teams.