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Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from the Metamorphoses (AMERICAN) [Hardcover]

Ovid , Ted Hughes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 1997
The METAMORPHOSES of Ovid stands with the works of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton as a classic of world poetry. Ted Hughes, England's Poet Laureate, has translated 24 stories from the METAMORPHOSES. The result is the most vigorous 20th-century version of this classic, at once a delight for the Latinist and an appealing introduction to Ovid for the general reader .

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From Amazon

England's poet laureate Ted Hughes first turned his hand to Ovid's Metamorphoses when he--along with other prominent English-language poets such as Seamus Heaney, Amy Clampitt, and Charles Simic--contributed poems to the anthology After Ovid. In the three years following After Ovid's publication, Hughes continued working with the Metamorphoses, eventually completing the 24 translations collected here. Culling from 250 original tales, Hughes has chosen some of the most violent and disturbing narratives Ovid wrote, including the stories of Echo and Narcissus, Bacchus and Pentheus, and Semele's rape by Jove. Classical purists may be offended at the occasional liberties Hughes takes with Ovid's words, but no one will quarrel with the force and originality of Hughes's verse, or with its narrative skill. This translation is an unusual triumph--a work informed by the passion and wit of Ovid, yet suffused with Hughes's own distinctive poetic sensibility.

From Library Journal

Hughes, the renowned author of innumerable works of poetry, prose, and children's literature and currently the poet laureate of England, offers a lively, readable, rendering of 24 tales from Ovid's Metamorphosis. The translations are unrhymed poems in their own right, but this collection is most welcome for making the most popular book of the classical era?a veritable source-book for writers during the Middle Ages, not to mention Chaucer and Shakespeare?so pleasantly accessible to the general reader. A fine addition to all libraries; highly recommended.?Thomas F. Merrill, Univ. of Delaware, Newark
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By tepi
Anyone who may have seen the brilliant Anthony Hopkins' movie, TITUS, a movie based on Shakespeare's most Ovidian play, 'Titus Andronicus,' and one which actually features Ovid's book, and who may now have a yen to read or re-read Ovid, could do worse than take a look at Ted Hughes' reworkings, in modern idiom, of Ovid's fascinating tales.
Hughes, in his brief but quite informative Preface, finds in both Shakespeare and Ovid a "common taste for tortured subjectivity and catastrophic extremes of passion." He continues : "Above all, Ovid was interested in passion. Or rather, in what a passion feels like to the one possessed of it. Not just ordinary passion either, but passion 'in extremis'" (pages viii-ix).
As a passionate man himself, one can understand the appeal that Ovid has for Hughes, and may suspect that he, if anyone, was the man to give us a modernized Ovid. Personally I found myself enthralled by Ted Hughes' versions of these tales. So what, if in furtherance of his poetic aims, he has reworked the tales to some extent? Hughes is an exceptionally talented poet, and I'll leave it to those who are his equals in poetic talent to argue with his procedures. I doubt there can be many.
Hughes' incredible skill as a poet is everywhere in evidence on these pages. His handling of image and sound and rhythm and line length, his lucid diction, and his stunning ability to find precisely the right word - as in such lines as "no earth / spun in empty air on her own magnet" (pages 3-4), or "Everwhere he taught / the tree its leaf" (page 5), or "Echo collapsed in sobs, / As her voice lurched among the mountains" (page 77), or "And there she was - the Arcadian beauty, Callisto. / He stared.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very overrated Oct. 7 1999
By A Customer
There's too much Hughes and not enough Ovid in these versions--and since Ovid was 20 times a better poet than Hughes, do the math yourself. There's too much blustery, north-of-England grimly rustic imagery and diction here. Ovid was the most urbane of poets, and his verse is redolent of the Mediterranean and the south. Who needs an Ovid that sounds like Gavin Douglas or William Drummond of Hawthornden? Also, entire passages are added here and there; this is a very unsound translation method, and I'd rather read Ovid's padding (there's enough of it) than Hughes's. If you want something of Ovid in English, read Rolfe Humphries's version of the Metamorphoses or even Horace Gregory's.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great translation, great selection May 29 2000
Ovid's tales are fantastic, but few readers make it through all of his tales. Hughes picks only the most famous and makes memorable translations of them. I use this book in our high school English curriculum for mythology -- it's just enough that students learn the essential Greek myths, but not too much that it becomes overwhelming. Hughes' translations are emminently readable. Sure, he could have included more, but those he does include are fanstastic and very vivid.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brings to life an often dull subject May 18 2000
When I was introduced to these stories in grade school I was bored senseless and avoided them well into adulthood. This collection brings the stories and characters to life in such a way that now I want to search out other translations. The portrayals of Echo and Hunger still haunt me and I read their respective tales often. This may not be a "true" translation that academics want, but it's a wonderful read in an area this isn't read much of any more.
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