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The Oresteia of Aeschylus
Categories: 21st Century, American, Ancient Greek and Roman, First Collections
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (288 pages)
(Pub. Apr 2020)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Apr 2020)
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The stories are familiar: family disharmony, mourning the loss of a loved one, vengeance, national tyranny, international war, a desire for justice. This new translation by Jeffrey Scott Bernstein, an independent scholar and novelist, preserves the artistry of the original while deploying a clear speech that directly addresses a twenty-first century temperament.
The Oresteia, first performed in Greece in 458 bce, has been celebrated as an example of the highest literary art. The murder of King Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra, the bloody vengeance their son Orestes wreaks upon his mother, and the appearance of the goddess Athena to sort matters out, tells a foundation narrative of world drama. The trilogy traces a progression from personal blood feud to institutionalised justice, and in doing so celebrates, by the end, the triumph of democracy among the citizenry.
'It's a huge challenge, to convey the ritualistic and formal qualities of these plays, whilst making them readable and accessible to a contemporary readership, and Jeffrey Scott Bernstein meets it admirably... he uses blank verse throughout, and it proves a flexible choice... Bernstein's excellent notes, helpfully placed after each individual play, assist with unfamiliar references and enhance the reader's understanding and enjoyment... In his acknowledgements, Bernstein mentions that the draft of this translation sat in the darkness of a drawer for nine years. One can only feel pleased that, in this thoughtfully-presented, lively new edition, it has finally come to light.'
Jill Sharp, The High Window
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