The Walls of Windy Troy Essay - Critical Essays

Marjorie Braymer


In The Walls of Windy Troy, Braymer created a charming but flawed biography. Her reliance on Schliemann’s own writings infected her with his intense romanticism. Seemingly captivated by the heroic proportions of his life, she introduces each chapter with a brief selection from Homer. The result is a sense of the continuation of the Trojan epic. Braymer casts Schliemann as a modern-day Trojan hero overcoming great obstacles to restore Troy to its former glory. Pivotal episodes in the biography become Homeric moments.

The author herself becomes a Homeric imitator. For example, at several points Braymer adapts Homer’s technique of starting an episode in medias res. Schliemann’s boyhood fascination with the Homeric saga is revealed to be a flashback that races through his semiconscious mind after the nearly fatal shipwreck. Like Odysseus, he is washed up on the beach of a strange land and there remembers the events which brought him to this point in his life. Here and in other places, Braymer catches Schliemann’s romantic belief in the essential truth of Homer and the intimate connection between his life and Homer’s story.

This romanticism carries over into Braymer’s description of the relationship between Schliemann and his Greek wife, Sophia Engastromenos. When they were married, Sophia was barely eighteen; Heinrich was nearly fifty. The relationship had its difficulties: Sophia’s family was most interested in...

(The entire section is 592 words.)