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Grief Lessons


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About the Author

Euripides (c. 485-406 BCE) Of his ninety-two plays, eighteen survive--more than twice as many as survive from any other Greek tragedian. They include: Medea, Andromache, Cyclops, Electra, The Trojan Woman, Helen, The Phoenician Women Orestes, and The Bacchae. Anne Carson was twice a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and has received the Lannan Award; the Pushcart Prize; the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry; the Griffin Poetry Prize; and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Author of many books, including Decreation and The Autobiography of Red, she currently teaches at the University of Michigan.


Writing with a pitch and heat that gets to the heart of the unforgiving classical world, Carson, a poet (The Autobiography of Red) and classicist (Economy of the Unlost), translates four of the 18 surviving plays by Euripides (485-406 B.C.): Alkestis, Herakles, Hekabe and Hippolytos. All feature characters trading single lines that somehow contain the essence of human tragedy. Alkestis blunderingly trades his wife's life for his own, then gets her back-but has to live with the embarrassment of having given her up. Herakles returns triumphant from the underworld, only to perform a fate-induced infanticide on his own children. Hekabe, a former queen now slave to the wily Odysseus, is reduced to a vengeful form of will to power. Hippolytos's uncomprehending state as the object of stepmother Phaidra's desire unravels all concerned. Carson is nothing less than brilliant-unfalteringly sharp in diction, audacious and judicious in taking liberties. In four separate prefaces, she introduces the plays succinctly, picking apart their structures and showing where flaws may be intentional. Worth the price of admission alone is Carson's blistering essay-afterword, written in Euripides's voice, which asks questions like "Is all anger sexual?" This amazing book gets very close to the playwright's enigmatic answers. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"The amazing poet Anne Carson offers a new translation of four plays by Euripides, each of which unfurls in searing, plainspoken English. Her essays and introductions are priceless." -Time Out NY

"In Grief Lessons, the contemporary poet and classicist Anne Carson's spare and beautiful new translation of four of Euripides' lesser known tragedies, we have a kind of primer on the intrinsic dangers of blind devotion to ideology." -The New Yorker "An eclectic selection that provides an excellent introduction to Euripides's range. Ms. Carson's Euripides is bleak, moving, and provocative, offering a painful reminder of the resonance of these ancient plays with our own times." -The New York Sun "Grief Lessons...reminds us that the difference between competent and inspired translation is more than a matter of even bravura technical competence. It involves a kind of discreet union between writer and translator, a certain convergence of aesthetic impulse and intellectual inclination. The issue of such a union can take a reader's breath away because it just seems so right--a work that stands firmly on its own but is somehow contented to be the sum of its parts. Carson's is, in other words, an altogether worthy heir...It's a reasonable and reasonably provocative contemporary reading." -The Los Angeles Times "Writing with a pitch and heat that gets to the heart of the unforgiving classical world, nothing less than brilliant--unfalteringly sharp in diction, audacious and judicious in taking liberties...Worth the price of admission alone is Carson's blistering essay afterword, written in Euripides's voice...This amazing book gets very close to the playwright's enigmatic answers." -Publishers Weekly*

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