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The Sappho Companion Paperback – June 30, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The ways in which this sparkling, unexpected anthology will be classified in libraries and bookstores--lesbian studies; classical studies--will strike anyone who reads it as absurd. A sweeping look at the persistence of the Greek poet Sappho in the artistic and popular imagination, The Sappho Companion draws on everything from the Roman myths of Sappho to the eighteenth century rediscovery of Herculaneum, with its intriguing papyrus fragments, to Pat Califia's 1980 lesbian S/M book, Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality (out of print). The only book that compares to The Sappho Companion in its breadth and imaginative vigor is Charles Sprawson's lyrical book on swimming, Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero, in which the swan-diving Sappho makes an appearance. You don't need to know a thing about Sappho to relish this book, but for true enthusiasts, it makes a good companion volume for Yopie Prins's Victorian Sappho, Paige DuBois's Sappho is Burning, and Anne Carson's brilliant meditation, Eros: The Bittersweet. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hailing from the island of Lesbos, which has subsequently lent its name in her honor to a good cause, the Greek poet Sappho, who lived in the 7th century B.C., has inspired centuries of admiration for her transcendent poems, which have only survived in fragments. A British teacher, critic and broadcaster with a wide range of cultural references at her disposal, Reynolds makes this reader's guide to Sappho's world and work a delightfully erudite one. She offers a selection of sapphic fragments in the original Greek, with thought-provoking contrasting translations from a plethora of (often male) writers, ranging from 18th century Englishmen like Tobias Smollett and John Addison, through 19th century efforts by John Addington Symonds and Alfred Lord Tennyson, to more modern versions by William Carlos Williams and Guy Davenport. Following the works are 14 chapters of excerpts from literary endeavors inspired by Sappho ("The Sapphic Sublime," "Daughter of de Sade," "Modernist Sappho," "Swingers and Sisters"), from ancient writers like Catullus and Ovid to the medieval works of Boccaccio and Christine de Pisan, right up to Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. Reynolds explains that English speakers pronounce the poet's name with "soft sibilants and faded f's" but "if you hear a native speaker say her name, she comes across spitting and popping hard p's. Ppppsappoppo. We have eased off her name, made her docile and sliding, where she is really difficult, diffuse, many-syllabled, many-minded, vigorous and hard." This lively book, scholarly, yet blessedly minus any footnotes, is sure to give a wider view of this primary writer, and provide easier access to a forbiddingly remote land and work.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Pevear and Volokhonsky offer a brilliant translation of Dostoevsky's classic novel that presents a clear insight into this astounding psychological thriller. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (June 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312295103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312295103
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,957,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By rottenbook on February 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I don't know what the previous reviewer is talking about; I loved this book. Granted, I am no scholar of Sappho. Although I have read various translations of her poetry in the past, I do not read Greek and cannot comment upon whether Reynolds' research is accurate. However, given her amazing previous work (editing Aurora Leigh, the Penguin Book of Lesbian Short Stories, etc.) I am inclined to trust her (and I like her writing style anyway).
For me, this book was the perfect introduction to Sappho. It includes historical background followed by many of Sappho's fragments in a variety of translations. But that's just the beginning: Reynolds goes on to show how Sappho has been imagined/created by literature up to the present day. She anthologizes a variety of poems, plays, and fictions inspired by Sappho. It is amazing to see how, though so little of her writing survived, she has remained a titaness in our imaginations. Each literary generation has reinvented and recreated her. Reading Jeanette Winterson's amazing story "The Poetics of Sex" (narrated by a modern-day Sappho) fills me with hope and joy at the potential for lesbian creativity that is Sappho's legacy. I also appreciated the inclusion of works of art depicting Sappho through the ages. Although they are in black and white, they are an exquisite visual touch to this beautiful volume (the cover art is amazing as well).
I urge you not to judge this book by one bad review. It is a book to be perused at leisure, to leaf through in times of anxious sorrow and contemplative joy. Buy or borrow a copy and judge it for yourself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shauna on April 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're a Sappho fan, you get everything in this book: her poems and fragments in the original Greek, followed by renderings by poets from Catullus and Ovid onward; her history, as much as is known; commentary on her by writers through the ages; and others' poems based on her work. The extant body of Sappho's work is so slender that the heart aches for what was lost; but these musings, analyses, and celebrations down through the ages help round out our image of her.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rev. Donna M. Swindells VINE VOICE on July 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Are you wondering about the poet Sappho" the poet the Greek & Roman people revered and respected for her beautiful poetry? Read this book, it unlocks the doors on the life & beauty of the talented "Sappho" a wonder with words that can touch or pierce your heart.
Blessings,
Donna Swindells
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By robert on March 18, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
nice book, thanks
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13 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on October 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I don't know for whom this book may have been written. For the Sapphophile, there are certainly more exhaustive and interesting books, some are which are noted in the bibliography at the end. Furthermore, for all the treacly editorial reviews about Ms. Reynolds's scholarly resources (which are certainly evident), she abuses them time and time again in two ways, one merely bothersome, and the other approaching dishonesty. 1.)She frequently truncates the passages from other authors just when they begin to get interesting. 2) She frequently selects works of literature, particularly poems, that may or may not have anything to do with Sappho and offers no solid evidence that they do. They are, I guess, Sapphic by association. Reynolds's association. The two most obvious examples are Shelley's "To Constantia, Singing" and Emily Dicknson's ""Heaven"- Is What I Cannot Reach!" To take the latter as a case in point, the poem is supposed to be Sapphic because of a three line Sappho fragment (#105) about an apple on the topmost bough. Need I remind everyone that there was another apple on a bough in another book that has a far more rich cultural history. And given that Dickinson's poem concerns "Heaven" and "Paradise," it seems a stretch, so to speak, to see the poem as influenced by the Sapphic fragment. Truth be known, I spent many more hours meditating on Ms. Dickinson's exquisite 15 line poem than I did in reading the rest of the entire hodgepodge of this book, though I plodded through from srart to finish.
So, my advice is to buy a book of Ms. Dickinson's poems or a more intriguing and honest study of Sappho. This book is just a non-starter.
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