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Ovid's Metamorphoses : The Arthur Golding Translation of 1567

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0966491319
ISBN-10: 0966491319
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

New publisher Paul Dry is starting out strong with this reprint of the 1965 volume edited by John Frederick Nims that is based on Arthur Golding's famous 1567 translation of Ovid's poetry. Golding's has been the favorite of writers and scholars the world over, including Shakespeare, who was a huge fan of his edition of Ovid. This version contains a new essay on Shakespeare and Ovid by scholar Jonathan Bate as well as notes and a glossary. Absolutely essential for academic collections, it will be an important addition to large public libraries as well.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Absolutely essential"—Library Journal

"This 1567 translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses…is tough, surprising, and lovely…To read it is to understand the Renaissance view of the classical world, storytelling and also Shakespeare's language and worldview."—A. S. Byatt

"It is a tour de force of translation, and it deserves, more than 400 years after its composition, to be read."—Rain Taxi

"The most beautiful book in the English language."—Ezra Pound

"[Golding's translation] was the English Ovid from the time of publication in 1567 until about a decade after the death of Shakespeare in 1616. The Ovid, that is, for all who read him in English during the greatest period of our literature. And its racy verve, its quirks and oddities, its rugged English gusto, is still more enjoyable, more plain fun to read, than any other Metamorphoses in English."—John Frederick Nims

"Ovid was Shakespeare's favorite classical poet. Both are writers who probe our humanity with great rigor, but ultimately do so in a spirit of sympathy for our frailties and indulgences. Ovid's world shuttles between human passions and natural phenomena. Shakespeare, with the assistance of Arthur Golding, carried the magic of that world into the medium of theatre."—Jonathan Bate


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: Paul Dry Books (March 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966491319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966491319
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Buy this book before it goes out of print for another thirty-five years!
If Golding's Ovid is not, "the most beautiful book in the language," it's among the top two-dozen "most beautiful books" you can find in English. I've searched for a second-hand copy of the 1965 Simon and Schuster edition since the late sixties, ever since I read Pound's ABC of Reading. I never had any luck finding it, though I did come across a non-circulating copy in a university library once. Its title page explained that only 2500 copies had been printed and that the previous edition -- the one Pound must have used -- was a small, deluxe Victorian production, itself unattainable by 1965.
After all my years lurking in second-hand bookshops, Paul Dry Books has finally done the decent and brought Golding's Ovid out again, this time as a beautifully printed, well-bound, but inexpensive paperback. I grabbed up my copy at first sight.
Is this an "accurate" translation of Ovid? As a previous reviewer has said, if you really want accuracy, you should read Ovid in Latin and leave the wild Elizabethan translators alone. Unlike that reviewer though, I'd say that, if you want Ovid in perfectly accurate modern English, with his poetry and voice included, you should read him in Mandelbaum's beautifully rendered version; but if you want an accurate modern English translation -- the type of thing your Latin prof would give you excellent marks for -- then read him in Melville's able, though sometimes sightly flat translation.
But if you love Elizabethan literature, then you should read Golding. You read his Ovid for the ripe, quirky, full-on Elizabethan English, deployed in his long, rambling fourteeners.
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I'd like my review to correct what seems to be an over-hasty, unreflective lionization of Golding's translation by the other reviewers. Yes, it is a "great translation," in the sense that Marlowe's translations from Latin are, or Motteaux' Don Quixote is, or Pope's Iliad, or Robert Lowell's Imitations, or Pound's Chinese "translations," or even Ted Hughes' Tales From Ovid: that is, it is an powerful, compelling, wholly literary work in its own right, but it is nowhere near the original in terms of accuracy. The Latinless reader would do much better to buy Melville's excellent Oxford translation (which lacks nothing in poetic splendor) or perhaps Allen Mandelbaum's. As for the poetic "quality" of Golding's verse, that's of course subjective, but I could easily think of at least ten Elizabethan poets who are more satisfying to my taste. Golding's chief literary interest, as Nims points out, is his absolutely odd-ball English; attentive readers will find him a veritable storehouse of strange, funny, quaint Elizabethanisms that didn't quite make it into Shakespeare or the other mainstream writers of the period. (Much of the same joy can be found in Chapman's marvelous translations of Homer, reprinted by Princeton.) And the much-quoted Pound maxim comes from his wonderfully cantankerous ABC of Reading, certainly a fascinating book, but one in which Pound indulges in various critical pronouncements that seem, at times, merely whimsical or rhetorical. Much of Golding is rough, much dull, much of its interest is linguistic rather than poetic. He also adds a lot to round off his fourteeners (which I can't imagine are palatable to most readers for long stretches): his additions are fun, but they're not Ovid.Read more ›
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Arthur Golding published this translation of the Roman poet Ovid's METAMORPHOSES in 1567, so of course it's in Elizabethan English. I was happy to find this version edited by John Frederick Nims to compare with more recent translations. Nims' introduction is engaging and particularly useful to those interested in reading the translation that was available to Shakespeare. In his introduction, Nims convincingly proves that Shakespeare's use of the METAMORPHOSES indicates that he knew the work in Latin, from his studies at the Kings Grammar School in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as in Golding's translation. In the 16th century, "grammar" referred to Latin grammar. I am familiar with Ovid, and enjoyed the book and found it helpful in my own research. However, if you are going to read only one English translation of Ovid's great mythological work, I'd recommend a more recent translation, e.g. Charles Martin's, which captures Ovid's somewhat jaunty style.
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Everyone knows the “Golding” translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the one that most influenced “Shake-speare.” And Oxfordians have long speculated that Golding’s young nephew, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, may have contributed to this translation. Just ponder what John F. Nims says in his introduction,
“An odd collaboration, that between the sophisticated darling of a dissolute society [that would be de Vere], the author of a scandalous handbook of seduction [i.e., Ovid]; and the respectable country gentleman and convinced Puritan who spent much of his life translating…John Calvin [i.e., Golding]. Hardly less striking than the metamorphoses the work dealt with” (xiv).

But what evidence do we have that the 15-year-old de Vere may have been the sole translator of Ovid’s first four books, published in 1665? Well, there’s the paradox already noted, that a Puritan who devoted himself to translating Calvin would have Englished Ovid’s salacious Latin into an even racier version. Would an earl have allowed someone else to sign his work? Yes. Marcy North has transformed our understanding of anonymous authorship in Elizabethan England. Only rarely did noblemen sign their own literary work during the lifetimes. And Paul Hammer (1997) has uncovered an instance of the Earl of Essex writing his own self-serving account of the Battle of Cadiz, but wanting it to be signed “R.B.,” “which some noe doubt will interpret to be Mr. Beale.” We have a letter from Essex’s secretary to Fulke Greville, asking if Essex could sign one of his works “F.G.” That is, using an “allonym,” which attempts to misattribute a work to another person.

Hendiadys [two similar or contrasting words linked by a conjunction] is another clue as to de Vere’s authorship.
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