Ovid and the Moderns

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The reasons for the conspicuous popularity of Ovid-his life as well as his works-at the turn of the new millennium bear investigation. . . . This book speaks of the new bodies assumed in the twentieth century by the poems and tales to which Ovid gave their classic form-including prominently the account of his own life, which has been hailed by many writers of our time as the archetype of exile. . . . I intend to suggest some of the reasons for Ovid's appeal to different writers and different generations. -from the PrefaceTheodore Ziolkowski approaches Ovid's Latin poetry as a comparatist, not as a classicist, and maintains that the contextualization of individual works helps place them in a larger tradition. Covering the period 1912-2002, Ovid and the Moderns deals with the reception of Ovid and of Ovid's works in literature. After beginning with a discussion of Giorgio de Chirico's Ariadne paintings of 1912 and the Hofmannsthal-Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos, Ziolkowski considers European literary landmarks from the High Modernism of Joyce, Kafka, Mandelstam, and Pound, by way of the mid-century exiles, to postmodernism and the century's end, when a surge of interest in Ovid was fueled by a new generation of translations. One of Ziolkowski's conclusions is that the popularity of Ovid alternates in a regular rhythm and for definable reasons with that of Virgil.