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It’s Jenny from the book! J Lo inspires hunt for ‘first editions’ of Homer’s Iliad


Jennifer Lopez stars in The Boy Next Door as a high school teacher

The book world moves in mysterious ways.  Jennifer Lopez has sparked interest in ‘first editions’ of Homer’s The Iliad – the epic poem about the Trojan War written around the 8th century BC.

Since Lopez’s latest movie,  The Boy Next Door, was released in the US on January 23, ‘The Iliad, first edition’ has been the top search term on AbeBooks.com. To Kill a Mockingbird is the second most popular search during this period and that classic book has received just a little publicity this month.

In The Boy Next Door, Lopez plays a divorced English literature high school teacher who has a one-night stand with her younger neighbor played by Ryan Guzman. In one scene, Guzman’s character gives Lopez a copy of The Iliad, which is described as a “first edition” and apparently found for “a buck at a garage sale.”

The Iliad from The Boy Next Door (YouTube)

It appears people who have watched the film are trying to identify the actual edition handed to Lopez, which has dark yellow and blue boards. I cannot match the book seen in the movie to anything currently for sale on AbeBooks and I did trawl though several hundred listings yesterday. It could be a movie prop.

One expensive Iliad has sold on AbeBooks since the release of The Boy Next Door. A copy from 1715 sold for $3,785 on February 4. The Iliad has been the 29th bestselling book on AbeBooks.com since January 23 but that’s not unusual as we sell the classics all year round.

Journalists and bloggers have mocked the scene as no-one knows when The Iliad was first written down to create the ‘true’ first edition. However, there have been numerous editions of The Iliad printed since the 16th century and each new edition would have its own first edition, so in that context the movie’s dialog is actually correct.

The most expensive Iliad currently for sale on AbeBooks is another 1715 edition translated by Alexander Pope, but also including The Odyssey, for $32,000.

Something similar happened in 2008 with the Sex and the City movie that featured a fictional (as in not real) book called Love Letters of Great Men that Mr Big read to Carrie Bradshaw. We saw thousands of people (ladies, I believe) coming to site looking for the book on the weekend that the film opened.

I can’t be specific but Hollywood folks regularly shop on AbeBooks.com – cheap used copies for actors prepping for a role or for screenwriters doing research, very specific editions for use in films, and also rare items because there are many book collectors inside the movie business.

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