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After Ovid: New Metamorphoses
Ovid's Metamorphoses is one of the great works in classical literature, and a primary source for our knowledge of much of classic mythology, in which the relentless theme of transformation stands as a primary metaphor for the often cataclysmic dynamics of life itself. For this book, British poets Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun have invited more than forty leading English...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published April 28th 1996 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
(first published January 1st 1994)
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The Power of Myth
Imagine this. You are a distinguished poet of an older generation, perhaps a poet laureate or tipped for the Nobel Prize. A couple of young colleagues ask you to write a poem, or two, or three, based on a story from Ovid's Metamorphoses that they will assign. Do you phone something in? Do you brush them off? Do you even answer? The fact that no less than 40 poets of the caliber of Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Paul Muldoon, Robert Pinsky, and Charles Simic turned in some 55 qualit ...more
A collection of poems based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Some are fairly dutiful translations, some are loose interpretations. Unfortunately they vary a lot in quality. The high point for me was "Mrs. Midas," by Carol Ann Duffy, the current British poet laureate. (According to Wikipedia she is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly gay person to hold the position.) "Mrs. Midas" has virtually nothing to do with Ovid's telling of the story--but it is perfectly Ovidian in tone and wit.
This collection of 60 poems based on passages from the Metamorphoses contains a huge spectrum of poetic recreation of Ovid's work, and the result is, perhaps inevitably, one of varied success and interest: there are as many misses as there are hits. There are some polished pieces that stick closer to the original tales - J. D. McClatchy's "The Grip of Envy" for example, or James Lasdun's "The Plague at Aegina"; Michael Longley's "Baucis and Philemon", or Derek Mahon's "Pygmalion and Galatea" - b ...more
An uneven and rather disappointing collection. While there are a few stunning poems (I particularly liked those by Alice Fulton and Eavan Boland) the majority are average (even Ted Hughes is not at his best here) and frequently seem laboured or dutiful, as if the myth chosen did not truly inspire the poet but was merely a commission to complete on time. An excessive overlap in theme among the poems doesn't help (so much to choose from in the Metamorphoses, and yet so little done with it here); t ...more
Michael Hofmann is a German-born, British-educated poet and translator. He is the author of two books of essays and five books of poems, most recently One Lark, One Horse. Among his translations are plays by Bertolt Brecht and Patrick Süskind; the selected poems of Durs Grünbein and Gottfried Benn; and novels and stories by, among others, Franz Kafka; Peter Stamm; his father, Gert Hofmann; and f ...more
Thirty-four years after the publication of her dystopian classic, The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood returns to continue the story of Offred. We talked...
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