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Metamorphoses (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 3, 2004
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About the Author
- ASIN : 014044789X
- Publisher : Penguin Classics; Revised ed. edition (August 3, 2004)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 768 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780140447897
- ISBN-13 : 978-0140447897
- Lexile measure : 1180L
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #25,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This work is important as a treasure trove of mythological material and transformation of the self. It is deeply mystical and also important to the study of classical mythology. There is so much in the book that it is hard to summarize what I like about it in a review. It is an important work well translated. If that was all, I'd give it 5 stars.
However, the book design is another matter. The book wastes a LOT of whitespace and adds unnecessary line breaks which are jarring to the reading of the poetry. I have to wonder whether this was motivated by price (larger book, higher cost) or whether it was just simply due to lack of review of alternatives. For example, a slightly wider page, a slightly smaller font, or even a narrower margin could have avoided this problem. One gets the distinct impression that nobody was really reviewing the design. It's a shame really. The book could have used a lot less paper and been easier to read. For this I have deducted a star. It's still a book I'd recommend, but no longer as highly as I would have.
But since Shakespeare quotes Ovid's mythology in almost every play, it is useful to know what he is referring to, without consulting the footnotes every few seconds.
Top reviews from other countries
This Penguin Classics edition has an introduction that is certainly worth reading, and of course there are copious notes, a further reading section and so on. Highly influential and more enjoyed by people than others of the great classics this is down to the author’s style. We can see reading this where certain influences came from, all the way back to Homer, and conversely, we can see who has been inspired by this epic poem, from Dante, Chaucer and Shakespeare, up unto quite recently Stephen Fry and his book Mythos. Taking in numerous genres and a multitude of themes, so the underlying element here is metamorphosis, in other words transformation, and this happens in various ways. We have people becoming animals, changing sex, or becoming plants and so on, but along with this we have those good old myths from the Greek and Roman world, where the Gods did at times love to interfere. There is rape here, murder, cruelty, incest, same sex love, and what today we would call paedophilia, to name just some of the elements that go to make up this work, which in itself is in many ways a framework for other stories and mini and mock epics.
Of course there is love and lust, jealousy and hatred here, and bloodlust, but even with some of the more bloodier scenes we know that there is going to be some humour just around the corner. Influencing not just writers but artists, and nowadays more immersive multimedia this is something that can be read and enjoyed by anyone. If you find Homer for instance perhaps a bit turgid, or get fed up with reading fight scenes, then fear not, you do not have to worry about that here, as they are soon over. This has humour throughout, from the light to satire and on to dark graveyard humour, so more than enough to raise a smile or two on even the most miserable of people. And with this translation there are introductions to each of the fifteen books that make up the whole poem, where you are given basic information on what to expect, and influences that Ovid used, so even if your Greek mythology is rather sketchy or non-existent you will start to pick things up by reading this. This is after all one of the most influential books in the Western World, so it does help if you have read it, and also it can be read again and again, and by other members of the family as well. At times showing a keen insight into people and emotions so this is also perhaps helpful in understanding yourself. Always popular, and a joy to read, if you have never done so before you really are missing out on a gem.
I liked how this edition has a commentary to each book before the verse starts, also in my kindle book the verses have line numbers and come with working links for annotated notes letting me concentrate on just reading the book than spending time going back and forth in turning pages.
I’m giving it 5* because it helped me to grasp better the huge catalogue of stories which are Greek Myth, and some stories were enjoyable or entertaining but really, as my other half would say, this is a dry book and more of interest if you want to become more familiar with these myths. I also found it was a useful book to have around whilst reading works by Homer.