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Jason and Medeia

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  94 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews


A mythological masterpiece about dedication and the disintegration of romantic affection
In this magnificent epic poem, John Gardner renders his interpretation of the ancient story of Jason and Medeia. Confined in the palace of King Creon, and longing to return to his rightful kingdom Iolcus, Jason asks his wife, the sorceress Medeia, to use her powers of enchantm
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published December 31st 1973 by Random House (NY) (first published 1973)
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Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
who thinks to DO this? seriously?

what kind of mind do you have to decide, self, today I will write an epic in the style of greek tragedies, and the tone of it will emulate a very excellent translation of such a tragedy. and it will be an absolute work of genius.

this kind of thing makes me feel dramatically unsmart. why in hell is it out of print?
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Five stars with some hesitation, but the few flaws are outweighed by massive intelligence and poetic brilliance. Those might actually be the flaws too, as products of the indulgence Gardner displays here. The book explodes on nearly every page with a sesquipedalian vocabulary and sensational borrowings from Greek myths that are weaved together for effect. To write something like this, a 500 page poem which summarizes the Jason story, encrusts it with gems of philosophy, wit, and violence, and th ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Gardner is an academic, not a poet, and J&M is a product of academia. It is cold, calculated, sterile, and joyless. Even that most famous war epic, The Iliad (Mitchell’s translation, not Fitzgerald’s), was streaked with joy — because it was composed by a poet.

But let’s talk about the bigotry in this poem. Gardner belabors his theme of time and eternity, but J&M is horribly passé. (Or maybe we have different concepts of morality.)
J&M was published in 1973, and Gardner must have writ
Bill FromPA
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The bulk of this novel in verse is made up of translations, sometimes very free, with interpolated commentary and scene-setting, of Apollonius and Euripides. A modern day narrator tells the story as it appears to him in a “dream”. This narrative ploy reminded me of Lessingham in The Worm Ouroboros, though, unlike Eddison’s character, Gardner’s anonymous witness is present throughout the tale and sometimes seems to have a physical presence in the mythical past where the story is set. Gods and god ...more
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a retelling of the myth of Jason and Medea written by a modern writer for modern readers. Gardner makes a point in the beginning of pointing out that while the narrative structure of the story in poem format is similar to classic epics, the language is mostly modern. This version of the classic myth starts with Jason and Medea living in exile after taking the golden fleece. He is telling the adventure to Kreon, all the while giving Kreon's daughter, Pyripta, sex-eyes. The rest of the sto ...more
Bob Rust
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jason and Medeia (1973) a fantasy novel in a quasi-verse format.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant epic poem written very much in the style of the Homeric Epics.
It is amazing the way Gardner is able to adapt his style - from the style of Ian Fleming when he continued the James Bond series, to himself, and to Grendel in which he successfully captured the spirit of the Middle English work he was responding to.
A brilliant writer and a great shame that this work is so difficult to buy due to it being out of print.
It will appeal to a small audience of those interested in the
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best of Gardner that I've read. It has replaced the original Agronautica in my mind. Very poetic and destructive.
As anyone who has read Greek or Roman poetry in translation knows, the central challenge for such translations is that those languages have radically different conventions of versification than does English poetry, and the translator needs to find a way to reflect the quantification of the older forms in a language that doesn't play by quantification rules. So it seems particularly perverse for a native-English-speaking poet to write an original poem designed to seem like a Greek epic translated ...more
Judith Shadford
Gardner was one of my first, earth-shaking mentors, though deceased when I discovered him. So I've kind of saved Jason and Medeia for what has turned out to be a slog. If someone else had written it, I would have dumped it. But, John Gardner...
Been thinking about it much of today and have two conclusions. It's better than I have given it credit for. I have a cheap paperback edition. So his writing the tale in epic style poetry for much of the narrative is just annoying. No line fits across the p
Mirek Jasinski
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this epic poem some 30 years ago and for some unexplained reason I feel the urge to read it again.
Nathan Jerpe
Awe inspiring. Lights the way for what verse can do in postmodern fantasy.
Tracy Marks
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Christopher Simon
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John Champlin Gardner was a well-known and controversial American novelist and university professor, best known for his novel Grendel, a retelling of the Beowulf myth.

Gardner was born in Batavia, New York. His father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer, and his mother taught English at a local school. Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together. As a child, Gardner
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