The critic and memoirist Daniel Mendelsohn is writing a book about Greek literature for Simon & Schuster. Mr. Mendelsohn published his last major work of nonfiction, The Lost, with the flagship imprint of HarperCollins, but was apparently unsatisfied with the offer that his editor there, Tim Duggan, made on the new book based on the proposal submitted to him by the literary agent Lydia Wills of Paradigm.
Tentatively titled Odysseys: Adventures in Reading the Greeks, the new book was acquired by Simon publisher David Rosenthal at auction for a sum that a source said was in the high six figures.
Mr. Mendelsohn’s essays on film, literature, and music are published regularly in popular publications such as the New York Review of Books, but he is also a trained classicist, having earned his Ph.D. in the field at Princeton in 1994. After he completed his Ph.D., Mr. Mendelsohn was a lecturer in the classics department at Princeton for eight years, and since 2006 has been a professor at Bard.
Netiher Mr. Rosenthal nor Simon & Schuster’s publicity director, Victoria Meyer, would comment on the book when asked about it this morning. But in a press release sent out late this afternoon, Ms. Meyer indicated that Mr. Mendelsohn will be edited by Sarah Hochman, and that the book is scheduled for 2012. Ms. Meyer’s press release, which strangely adapts a line from Mr. Mendelsohn’s book proposal in place of an actual comment from the author—”It is, I hope, a book that will wed a deep critical examination to an unabashed emotionality about how texts can add immeasurably to our understanding of our lived experience”—calls the book “a literal and figurative voyage in search of the meanings of the greatest of the Classics, from Homer to Aristophanes and beyond, offering an innovative and unconventional guide to understanding these rich texts and a perspective that will be inspiring for any reader.”
Attempts to reach Mr. Mendelsohn and his agent went unreturned.