Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Hal Coase 'Ochre Pitch' Gregory Woods 'On Queerness' Kirsty Gunn 'On Risk! Carl Phillips' Galina Rymbu 'What I Haven't Written' translated by Sasha Dugdale Gabriel Josipovici 'No More Stories' Valerie Duff-Strautmann 'Anne Carson's Wrong Norma'
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This review is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

STAGE FRIGHT DEREK WALCOTT, The Odyssey: A Stage Version (Faber and Faber) £6.99 pb
BRENDAN KENNELLY, Euripides' The Trojan Women: A New Version (Bloodaxe Books) £6.95 pb
DAVID FERRY, Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse (Bloodaxe Books) £6.95 pb

How do you persuade modern audiences reared on television soap operas and advertising soundbites that the classics - Homer, Euripides, Aeschylus and the like-can be engaging and relevant to their own experience? How do you make such texts, with their panoply of gods and portrayal of human beings as victims of a fate beyond their control, accessible to a generation for whom faith and all its associated value-systems is becoming increasingly meaningless? It's a dilemma tackled in very different ways by Derek Walcott, Brendan Kennelly and David Ferry in their translations, or perhaps I should say 'transformations', of Homer, Euripides and the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh.

Walcott, the Nobel Prize-winning poet from St Lucia in the Windward Isles, has produced for the Royal Shakespeare Company a stage version of The Odyssey that is an odd blend of cod Greek, Caribbean sing-song and south London demotic. Kennelly was inspired to write his own version of Euripides' The Trojan Women by the hard-working, long-suffering women of his home village of Ballylongford in County Kerry (or so he says). He focuses on the plight of the women, captured by their Greek conquerors and carried off as 'the perks of war'. But in doing so he creates a 'classics by numbers' version of Euripides, leaving out the subtle irony to highlight just one aspect: the subjection of the women to a band of male chauvinists. Only Ferry, in his 'new rendering' of the story of the heroic warrior of Uruk, Gilgamesh, ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image