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Tales from Ovid: Twenty-four Passages from the "Metamorphoses" [Paperback]

Ted Hughes
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

18 Feb 2002
When Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun's ground-breaking anthology After Ovid (also Faber) was published in 1995, Hughes's three contributions to the collective effort were nominated by most critics as outstanding. He had shown that rare translator's gift for providing not just an accurate account of the original, but one so thoroughly imbued with his own qualities that it was as if Latin and English poetwere somehow the same person. Tales from Ovid, which went on to win the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, continued the project of recreation with 24 passages, including the stories of Phaeton, Actaeon, Echo and Narcissus, Procne, Midas and Pyramus and Thisbe. In them, Hughes's supreme narrative and poetic skills combine to produce a book that stands, alongside his Crow and Gaudete, as an inspired addition to the myth-making of our time.

Frequently Bought Together

Tales from Ovid: Twenty-four Passages from the "Metamorphoses" + Beowulf: Verse Translation (Norton Critical Editions) + The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus (Myths)
Price For All Three: 22.33

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (18 Feb 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571191037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571191031
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

England's poet laureate Ted Hughes first turned his hand to Ovid's Metamorphoses when he--along with other prominent English-language poets such as Seamus Heaney, Amy Clampitt and Charles Simic-- contributed poems to the anthology After Ovid. In the three years following After Ovid's publication, Hughes continued working with the Metamorphoses, eventually completing the 24 translations collected here. Culling from 250 original tales, Hughes has chosen some of the most violent and disturbing narratives Ovid wrote, including the stories of Echo and Narcissus, Bacchus and Pentheus, and Semele's rape by Jove. Classical purists may be offended at the occasional liberties Hughes takes with Ovid's words, but no one will quarrel with the force and originality of Hughes's verse, or with its narrative skill. This translation is an unusual triumph--a work informed by the passion and wit of Ovid, yet suffused with Hughes's own distinctive poetic sensibility. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Brilliantly succeeds at bringing Ovid's passionate and disturbing stories to life."--James Shapiro, " The New York Times Book Review" "One of the few unquestionable successes in the revolutionary vein Pound opened at the start of the century."--Donald Lyons, "The Wall Street Journal" "Hughes is as broad as Ovid and as subtle, as violent and as erotic, as elegant and as folksy-and often all at the same time. It is simply a beautiful match."--Michael Hofmann, "The Times "(London)

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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great and important book 3 Jan 2004
By A Customer
Read this majestic, exciting volume of poems as soon as you can.
It's a truly wonderful and brilliant work. The best book by a British writer during the 1990s.
Hughes's Ovid is better than the old Ovid!
The original Press reviews said it was a very fine book - even Steiner in The Observer! - and they were right. A classic.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ovid forever 13 July 2009
The large paintings post Renaissance of mythical events left me cold. I never understood what could drive someone to paint such quantities of flesh doing odd things. I knew the stories, bawdlerised, confined to footnotes. I had never read Ovid. Ted Hughes translation transmits the passion, the telling detail, the sexual twist that previous generations knew and loved when their education meant reading these imagination-stirring gems. Phaeton crashing his father's sun chariot after careering all over the sky with it to prove himself lives on in every boy racer. I luxuriate in this book: it has been loved 2 thousand years so why not me too?
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Tales from Ovid. This is more like reading a rattling good novel than poetry. Having said that the language is stunning with imagery to fill the screen of the widest imagination. Driving narrative and brilliant, graphic language embroil the reader in these steamy, violent, amoral myths.Physicality bursts through the language in the way it did in Hughes 'Crow' twenty odd years ago, except this time its people whose hearts and loins are thrashing on the page. Be warned, it's gorey stuff. E.M. Forster, in a personal view of Heaven, surmised that the solidity of those that abided there depended on the degree to which they were remembered on earth. Zeus & co. may all have been on the verge of becoming fast-fading entities but Hughes pumps the very teeth and spunk of life back into the old gods. It's like they're still carrying on their capers down in the blue blazing Aegean.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Metamorphoses: Out Loud, Violent and Beautiful 23 Aug 2009
My wife and I read this slowly, being sure to read the entire book out loud. During our semi-nightly ritual of reading out loud to one another, which mostly involves me reading to Amy, I found myself shivering with the visceral, accurate, and beautiful writing that Hughes engages to re-tell these most famous of stories: Ovid's Metamorphoses.

I was introduced to this book some time back by a dear friend of mine who loved Hughes's translation of the story of Echo and Narcissus and read it while studying Classics. That was indeed one of my favourites in the collection, accompanied too by the stories of Arethusa, of Venus and Adonis (and Atalanta), of Actaeon, of Arachne, and of so many others. My wife also studied classics and we resolved some time ago to purchase the book and read it aloud, which was a fantastic, though extended, experience. Now, I almost cannot imagine these stories read silently.

Hughes represents forcibly Ovid's core theme of metamorphosis: the fact that men and gods are vulnerable to change and flux. Furthermore, Hughes also captures the messages of the stories well in his physical and robust language - you feel Arachne's pride as she takes on Minerva, you internalise the urgent, visceral need that Narcissus feels for himself, you experience the change of body to water as Arethusa tries to evade Alpheus and they both metamorphose. Ovid's original stories contain violence, rape, murder, and vengeance and Hughes's presentation of these acts is vivid and transformative. Again, in the story of Arethusa you cannot help but understand the sense of pursuit, of intent to fulfill passionate ravishment, the urge to penetrate, to touch, to clutch. Reading this book is unlike reading a novel, and unlike reading most contemporary poetry.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilerating 12 Jan 2004
By A Customer
I've never been a particular fan of Ted Hughes, but this volume of translation of Ovid's wonderful stories is nothing short of astonishing. Rarely has such meaty, bold, exciting poetry been written. The phrasing is exquisite, with raw, graphic imagery, and moments of emotional purity which can be deeply moving. Taking the original Latin to soaring new heights, this is a masterpiece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ted Hughes's adaptation of the Metaphorphoses 22 Mar 2010
To witness a major poet of the twentieth century recreating in his own language the imaginative work of a poet who wrote two thousand years ago is a vertiginously exciting experience. And when the poet is such a technical master and virtuoso as Ted Hughes the pleasure is intoxicating. A wonderful read, I was delighted to find this second hand on Amazon - very good value.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Engine of the Imagination 30 Jun 2003
By A Customer
Ted Hughes's translation of Ovid's epic is nothing short of sublime. He manages to capture the two abiding qualities of the original: its sinuousness and its crystalline precision. The magic of The Metamorphosis lies in it's calculated effect on the imagination; it is only in the mind's inward eye that the wondrous transformations can take place. Hughes has managed to tap into the magic and power of the tales for a modern ear. The language used in 'Phoeaton' and 'The Rape of Prosipina' is unforgettable.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great poetry - but it's not Ovid 22 Oct 2006
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
I'm not knocking this text as like the other reviewers here I think it's gritty, raw and imaginative - but I do dispute the idea of it being a 'translation' of Ovid, because it isn't: it's Hughes own take on the mythology of the world. Nothing wrong with that, but just be aware that this is a work to be read on its own merits, and if you want to read Ovid then try the David Raeburn translation published by Penguin.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Real live gods
What carries me away is Ted Hughes' conjuring of a godscape that has not the slightest relevance to contemporary existance. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brian Pickering
5.0 out of 5 stars Ted Hughes and Ovid...
Little needs to be said about this book. A masterpiece translation from one of the most powerful classic texts; two of the greatest writers in history synthesise. Simply beautiful.
Published 9 months ago by Matt Adamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Hughes, master communicator
Poetry from the Ancients. In the skillful hands of Ted Hughes, they have an immediacy to the modern mind, giving us the depth that nowadays is lacking
Published 11 months ago by King Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry without the pretence
Poetry tends to be the great divider in literature; you either love it, or hate it. And, until I found a poet I could understand and connect with on some level, I thought poetry... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Carol A.
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales from Ovid
Greek myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses retold in Ted Hughes's wonderful poetry. Beautiful, very funny and instructive. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dr C Richards
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a gem.
I bought this book as a special gift for my young grandson, who had wished for it for Christmas.Being a lover of Ted Hughes' poetry and interested in Ovid, I had high expectations,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Mrs. Susanna Beer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondrous
As Martin Amis said; "this book will change your life. A magical journey of vibrant ingenuity which inspires a vision of warm contradictions.
Published 20 months ago by Paul Ashby
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