The Theban Plays of Sophocles


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Translated by David R. Slavitt

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A new and welcome translation of Sophocles’ great Oedipus cycle, by one of the distinguished translators of our era

In this needed and highly anticipated new translation of the Theban plays of Sophocles, David R. Slavitt presents a fluid, accessible, and modern version for both longtime admirers of the plays and those encountering them for the first time. Unpretentious and direct, Slavitt’s translation preserves the innate verve and energy of the dramas, engaging the reader—or audience member—directly with Sophocles’ great texts. Slavitt chooses to present the plays not in narrative sequence but in the order in which they were composed—Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannos, Oedipus at Colonus—thereby underscoring the fact that the story of Oedipus is one to which Sophocles returned over the course of his lifetime. This arrangement also lays bare the record of Sophocles’ intellectual and artistic development.

Renowned as a poet and translator, Slavitt has translated Ovid, Virgil, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Ausonius, Prudentius, Valerius Flaccus, and Bacchylides as well as works in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Hebrew. In this volume he avoids personal intrusion on the texts and relies upon the theatrical machinery of the plays themselves. The result is a major contribution to the art of translation and a version of the Oedipus plays that will appeal enormously to readers, theater directors, and actors.

David R. Slavitt is the distinguished translator of more than eighty works of fiction, poetry, and drama, including most recently William Henry Harrison and Other Poems. He lives in Cambridge, MA.

“Clarity, directness, nobility without pretention, beauty simply expressed—nearly any line in David R. Slavitt’s Theban Plays of Sophocles reveals a masterly sense of English syntax and word-music. This is a translation meant to be heard in a theater as well as read on a page.”—Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and essayist     

“A fine translation. It has flair, and I can imagine this translation being the preferred text for the stage.”—David Konstan, Brown University 

“Slavitt’s lean translations are dramatically effective without sacrificing the nuances of the original. . . . Arguably superior in some respects to Fagles, especially as a work to perform on stage.”—Gail Holst-Warhaft, Cornell University  

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.
ISBN: 9780300117769
Publication Date: May 1, 2007
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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