BN.com Gift Guide

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

( 4 )

Overview

Of the nine books of lyrics the ancient Greek poet Sappho is said to have composed, only one poem has survived complete. The rest are fragments. In this miraculous new translation, acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson presents all of Sappho’s fragments, in Greek and in English, as if on the ragged scraps of papyrus that preserve them, inviting a thrill of discovery and conjecture that can be described only as electric—or, to use Sappho’s words, as “thin fire . . . racing under skin.” By combining the ancient...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.92
BN.com price
(Save 17%)$16.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (27) from $6.61   
  • New (18) from $9.09   
  • Used (9) from $6.61   
Sending request ...

Overview

Of the nine books of lyrics the ancient Greek poet Sappho is said to have composed, only one poem has survived complete. The rest are fragments. In this miraculous new translation, acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson presents all of Sappho’s fragments, in Greek and in English, as if on the ragged scraps of papyrus that preserve them, inviting a thrill of discovery and conjecture that can be described only as electric—or, to use Sappho’s words, as “thin fire . . . racing under skin.” By combining the ancient mysteries of Sappho with the contemporary wizardry of one of our most fearless and original poets, If Not, Winter provides a tantalizing window onto the genius of a woman whose lyric power spans millennia.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[Sappho’s] verse has been elevated to new heights in [this] gorgeous translation.” —The New York Times

“This Sappho is whispering in our ear in a language we can understand.” —Time Out New York

“Carson is in many ways [Sappho’s] ideal translator. . . . Her command of language is honed to a perfect edge and her approach to the text, respectful yet imaginative, results in verse that lets Sappho shine forth.” —Los Angeles Times

“A selfless, faithful, and boldly delicate achievement.” —Boston Review

Publishers Weekly
A classicist at McGill University, Carson has mined Greek literature, and Sappho in particular, to tremendous effect and acclaim in her poetry and essays. Her prose Eros the Bittersweet (1986) discussed Sappho's term "glukupikron" ("sweetbitter") among other Greek concepts, while the poems of Autobiography of Red (1998) reinvented surviving fragments of the Greek poet Stesichoros, to take just two examples. Here, Carson fully channels one of the most iconic yet least transparent Greek poets, whose work comes to us mostly in fragments. In a four-page preface, Carson addresses the fact that very little is known for certain about Sappho, apart from the fact that she lived in the "city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos from about 630 B.C." and "appears to have devoted her life to composing songs." She bases her translation, beautifully presented here with the Greek en face, on a 1971 transcription by the scholar Eva-Maria Voigt, published in Amsterdam, and includes all the fragments published by Voigt in which "at least one word is legible," using "the plainest language I could find, using where possible the same order of words and thoughts as Sappho did." Since Sappho's texts are fragments, it is inevitable that Carson offers some pages that are mostly brackets indicating missing material, suggestively interspersed with the words "youth" or "sinful," for example, or the phrases "as long as you want" or "my darling one." As with Joyce's Homeric "winedark sea," Carson includes compounds like "sweetflowing" or "farshooting" to render complex Greek words. Carson grudgingly allows a lesbian interpretation for some of the poems, noting that "[i]t seems that she knew and loved women as deeply as she did music. Can we leave the matter there?" (About an equal number of poems in this collection are about loving men.) With 26 cogent pages of notes to individual poems, an eight-page "Who's Who" of names mentioned in the poems, four pages of "Testimonia" about Sappho and Carson's get-out-of-the-way-of-the-poems approach to translation, the uninitiated should have no problem entering this rich territory and constructing their own versions of the enigmatic poet. (Aug. 29) Forecast: The combination of one of the most acclaimed poets of the last 10 years and one of the most haunting of the last 2,000 should be electric at the register. Carson has won a MacArthur Fellowship and has been profiled extensively in the press. Expect interest in this title to be extremely high across the board; at present, it is a selection of The Reader's Subscription, Insightout and Quality Paperback Book Club. Aside from perhaps the various Heartsongs editions, this should be the poetry bestseller of the year and a very strong seller for years to come. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
The lyric poetry of antiquity is often as important to modern poets as it is to translators and classical scholars. Mulroy is a professor of classics (Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), and Carson (classics, McGill Univ.; The Beauty of the Husband) and the late William Matthews (After All: Last Poems) are well-regarded poets. Following Pound's dictum to "make it new," Mulroy and Matthews translate Catullus and Horace into modern American idiom, striving where possible to find cultural equivalents rather than literal translations. At the same time, they try to be true to the shifting tones and rhythms of their originals. The results are fluent, giving some sense of the contemporaneousness that Catullus and Horace would have evoked in their audiences. Carson's translation follows Sappho's diction and form much more closely and includes the Greek original on the facing page. Much of what survives of Sappho are fragments, often just a stray word, phrase, or even a few letters. Like many modern poets, Carson deploys these on the blank page, letting their suggestiveness fill the gaps and create whole lyrics in the imagination of the readers. All three translators aim for a general audience, though Mulroy and Carson also include notes and introductions of value to the more scholarly reader. All three books are recommended for both public and academic libraries. T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375724510
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/12/2003
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 285,310
  • Product dimensions: 5.17 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Carson lives in Canada.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Fragment 22

]
]work
]face
]
]
if not, winter
]no pain
]
]I bid you sing of Gongyla, Abanthis, taking up your lyre as (now again) longing floats around you.

you beauty. For her dress when you saw it stirred you. And I rejoice.
In fact she herself once blamed me
Kyprogeneia

because I prayed this word:
I want

Fragment 47
Eros shook my mind like a mountain wind falling on oak trees

Fragment 52

I would not think to touch the sky with two arms


Fragment 56

not one girl I think who looks on the light of the sun will ever have wisdom like this

Fragment 147

someone will remember us
I say even in another time

Fragment 162

with what eyes?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    This is a beautiful translation, where even the little bits of a

    This is a beautiful translation, where even the little bits of a long lost voice turn into new and beautiful poems of their own right. I got a copy from the library as required reading for school and loved it so much I bought a copy. It also has relevant extra information on Sapphos life and people mentioned in the poems.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)