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The Throne of Labdacus Hardcover – October, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Schnackenberg does not write the intimate little odes so dear to the hearts of many of today's current writing instructors. Grand and imposing, her poems storm through civilization, paying homage to art's greatest figures in language that is formal, articulate, and cool and glittering as a knife. Even when she touches on personal issues her neighbors, her father's death she works large. This year, she coupled a fine selected works with a new book-length poem that plunges back into Greek myth, ultimately investigating the tension between art and life. Decidedly different reading.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Rich, even ornate at times, Schnackenberg's poetry carries its weight as if it were no weight at all, partly by its thematic intensity and partly by the sheer beauty of its imagery. (Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review)

Schnackenberg stands out among younger American poets for her ambition, in the best sense of the word. Her verse is strong, dense, and musical. . . . Behind it are formidable masters, Robert Lowell most notably, but also Yeats and Auden. . . . [Hers] is a very rare achievement in contemporary poetry. (Adam Kirsch, The New York Times Book Review)

A profound meditation on the mysteries of feeling and language from a passionate, brilliant poet. (Phoebe Pettingell, The New Leader) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux; 1st edition (October 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374276862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374276867
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,215,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Newlove on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For me THE THRONE OF LABDACUS is the best volume of American poetry this year and deserves our greatest prizes. The editorial description [above] says quite well what the poem is about and I couldn't say it better in a thousand words. Reading this poem I was at first astounded by the orignality and freshness of the images on the first page. Then slowly I came to grips with what at first seemed distant meanings but aren't. Once I adjusted my compass all went well, and I found myself gripped with hunger for the great poetry before me on the page. This is a poem something like one of Yeats's late longer poems which can never be read the same way twice, even by its author, or come to a final meaning. Like a piano sonata, whoever plays it, even its composer, will never find exactly the same music each time it's played. There will always be a spirited new attack, some new depth in the reader's life, a new meaning, a new suprameaning. Like Crane's THE BRIDGE, this is transcendental poetry, never woolly, and actually easier to grasp than Crane or Wallace Stevens at their farther out. The poem that comes most quickly to my mind when reading THE THRONE OF LABDACUS is Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" which is about a great spirit blowing about the earth, blowing about the poet, blowing about the reader, touchable but unfathomable and not to be cast into words, even Shelley's. Or Schnackenberg's. She is out to flood us with divine forces and does it thrillingly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "krchicago" on September 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A sad, beautiful meditation on fate, the power of music and poetry to express (even to call into being) the otherwise inexpressible, and the limits on the power of words ("the stunned silence at the heart of the text") and of the gods ("What are the gods, who can't repair such things?"). Schnackenberg somehow makes us forget about Freud, and refocuses our attention on the initial horror of Oedipus' story -- a child conceived in defiance of the oracle, then maimed and left on a hillside to die. Images, sounds and lines of text recur and modulate throughout the book, imitating lyrically the web of fate that binds both Apollo and the children of Labdacus. A stunning achievement!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Newlove on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
For me THE THRONE OF LABDACUS s is the best volume of American poetry this year and deserves our greatest prizes. The editorial description above says quite well what the poem is about and I couldn't say it better in a thousand words. What happens when I read this was, first, a sense of being astounded by the images on the opening page, then slowly coming to grips with what at the start seemed obscure but really isn't, and then feeling gripped by deep hunger for great verse as it lay before me on the page. This is a poem that will never read the same twice, even by its poet author. Like a piano sonata, whoever plays it, even its composer, will never find exactly the same music in it each time it's played. There will always be a new attack, a new depth in the reader's life, a new meaning, a new suprameaning. Like Crane's THE BRIDGE, this is transcendental poetry, never woolly, and actually easier to grasp than Crane or Wallace Stevens at their farthest out. The poem that comes most quickly to my mind when reading THE THRONE OF LABDACUS is Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind" which is about a great spirit blowing about the earth, blowing about the poet, blowing about the reader, touchable but unfathomable and not to be cast into words, even Shelley's. Or Schnackenberg's. She is out to flood us with divine forces and does it thrillingly.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Gwynn on May 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a weak book from a poet who has done better and should know better. Schnackenberg manages to avoid everything, or almost everything, that is compelling about the Oedipus myth. There is one section, on the metaphoric origins of the Greek alphabet, that is fascinating (in a wholly fantastic sort of way), but the rest of the poem is as dead as the language Schnackenberg is talking about. This is a poet who has moved, in a relatively short time, from writing memorable poems (many of them in traditional forms) to poems that only antiquarians will remember. I thought A Gilded Lapse of Time, the poet's last book, was a fairly significant lapse, but this one goes even further. This is poetry written with an eye toward a MacArthur. The review in the New York Review of Books was a travesty, in my opinion. Caveat emptor.
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