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Tales from Ovid Hardcover – November, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374228418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374228415
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

This is the most poetic translation I have found.
Ken Braithwaite
Read it with your eyes closed, you will never want to put it down.
Critique that
I would suggest this book to anyone who wants a good evening read.
J T Cannon Jr

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By tepi on June 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I was 16 when I first read this book. It is now a year later and I have read it about 5 times so far. Get it! It is the best ever. OK, I admit I studied Latin and Classics in English boarding school for 6 years so I'm slightly biased..but how can anyone not realise the significance of this book! Hughes captures Ovid's spirit well...READ IT!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. McLaughlin on July 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
I agree with most of the positive reviewers of this book, in fact, it's a wonderful book. It's 24 or 25 freely translated, modernized Greek myths in their Ovidian versions, out of 250 or so that Ovid wrote. In the introduction, Hughes said that the stories had become part of our culture's subconscious memory, and it occured to me that that may no longer be true, and that Hughes' work of preservation here and in his anthologies of poetry had a certain touching hopefulness to it. These are great stories with implications way beyond their obvious meanings. The great enemy of mankind's future, it seems to me, and as many other people have said, is Corporate Mankind: the unpoetic, the emotionally deaf, unmusical person, greedy and mendacious. Man becoming a kind of technologically sophisticated, highly organized human insect. Anyway, Hughes was one of the people who hoped this was not our fate and who tried to do something about it. This book was one of the ways, probably the most delightful, engaging of his efforts. His versions of these myths could not be improved upon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Colin A. McKenzie on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The 24 selections of Ovid's Metamorphoses that Ted Hughes translated is so modern and orginal, after reading Tales from Ovid by Ovid, Ted Hughes, I wish Hughes had translated the entire epic.

Hughes is a brilliant poet and the way he wield words dazzled me for hours:

Then Narcissus wept into the pool.
His tears shattered the still shrine
And his image blurred.
He cried after it: "Don't leave me.
If I cannot touch you at least let me see you.
Let me nourish my starving, luckless love-
If only by looking".

Beautiful, huh?
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Critique that on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
As an appropriation of an appropriation, hughes' manages to bring to life the classic tales of greek mythology and modernize ovid's original tales yet at the same time keeping up the essential message that ovid was bringing across 2000 years ago. Even if you do'nt speak English one could understand teh works of hughes' perfectly, his range of vocabulary is genius in itself. the language slips and slides around your mouth, burning like brimstone or as languid as lagoons.

try this for size:

Violence is an extrapolation

Of the cutting edge

Into the orbit of the smile

Rivers of milk mingled with rivers of nectar

and out of the black oak oozed amber honey

I must confess I have to read this for my literature course, but I am so glad that I did! I never would have picked it up otherwise, whilst seemingly sophisticated and slippery it is simultaneously so simple and easy to relate to in a way that hardly condescends or patronizes the reader's understanding.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone, even if you don't speak english, even if you don't understand some of the words, it's the way it sounds that counts.

Read it with your eyes closed, you will never want to put it down.
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