An anthology of contemporary versions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses edited with Michael Hofmann (1996)
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one of the great works in classical literature, and a primary source for our knowledge of much of classic mythology, in which the theme of transformation stands as a metaphor for the often cataclysmic dynamics of life itself. For this book, British poets Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun have invited more than forty leading English-language poets to create their own idiomatic contemporary versions of some of the most famous and notorious myths from the Metamorphoses.
Apollo and Daphne, Pyramus and Thisbe, Proserpina, Marsyas, Medea, Baucis and Philemon, Orpheus and Eurydice–these and many other immortal tales are given fresh and startling life in exciting new versions. The contributors–among them Carol Ann Duffy, Jorie Graham, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Les Murray–constitute an impressive roster of today’s major poets. After Ovid is a powerful re-envisioning of a fundamental work of literature as well as a remarkable affirmation of the current state of poetry in English.
“[This anthology aims] to play fast and loose with Ovid’s text and themes just as he played fast and loose with the old myths. After Ovid is racy, memorable, and vividly contemporary. The themes are most certainly ours: sex-change, multiple rape, cross-dressing, the random cruelties of war. The poets re-imagine, reflect on, and generally reinterpret the originals–something of which Ovid himself would surely have approved. Reading Ovid in these versions, and even in the original, is a bit like a good evening at the cinema: rapid scene changes; sudden close-ups; unexpected shifts of attention.” — The Economist
“The old magic has worked anew and several major figures have obviously found themselves hooked. . . . The contributors’ list is a roll-call of remarkable distinction. . . . The effect is to bring Ovid from a dead to a living language.” — The New Statesman