The New World: An Epic Poem: The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Editionby Frederick Turner
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Set four hundred years in the future, Frederick Turner’s epic poem, The New World, celebrates American culture in A.D. 2376. As the book opens, the nation-state has been fragmented and replaced by new political forms: the Riots, violent anarchistic matriarchies, whose members are addicted to psychedelic joyjuice; the Burbs, populations descended from the old middle classes and now slaves to the Riots; the Mad Counties, religious theocracies dominated by fanatical fundamentalists; and the Free Counties, Jeffersonian democracies where arts and sciences flourish.
Within this setting, Turner’s epic tells the story of a tragic family feud involving Ruth Jefferson, daughter of the political leader, Shaker McCloud; Antony Manse, a handsome aristocrat; Ruth’s half-brother, the ambitious Simon Raven McCloud, who is under the influence of his grandmother, the witch Faith Raven; and the hero, James George Quincy. When banished from the Free Counties, the vengeful Simon Raven transforms himself into a messianic figure who inspires a league of Mad Counties to launch a holy war to annihilate the Free Counties.
Turner’s epic calls for a cultural commitment to transcend the contemporary choice between blind faith and hedonistic relativism. This bold work challenges many conventional assumptions about modern poetry and its relationship to other literary forms and the culture at large.
- ILIUM PRESS
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Meet the Author
Frederick Turner is an Oxford graduate and is Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is a former editor of The Kenyon Review. He is the author of ten books of poetry (including two epics and two other book-length epic poems), a novel, and numerous books on literature, philosophy, and classicism, including the controversial The Culture of Hope: A New Birth of the Classical Spirit. He is also the author of Genesis, another epic poem published by The Ilium Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The New World is an epic poem. As in any good epic it tells a roaring story that sweeps through time and geography with a hero large enough to carry the reader through 241 pages of metered verse. Set in a strange future world where there is no U.S. government, but warring regions dominated by those who have given up on the world and succumbed to drug addiction or slavery or dark religion. There is one shining place, the Free Counties, that has the virtues of the humanist tradition. An outcast from the Counties, after a trip to a dark underworld (a typical feature of most epics), comes home with the Mother and finds himself in a situation where the Free County warriors he is with fight a heroic battle, but mostly die. It is from this point on that the action of the epic, except for one part that becomes entangled in philosophy, builds and builds to a climax that is both terrible and exalting. Ilium Press is fighting a brave battle to restore the epic form to contemporary literature, and Turner's epic is a worthy effort. There is poetry here that rings with the detail and emotion of great poetry as well as a grand adventure story. The philosophy section, building context and the foundations on which the story is built, drags a little, but overall this is a work that ought to be read. Readers who believe in literature and the importance of form in a world that is too often more chaotic and individualistic-driven into mass movements should find this work a magnificent way to spend a few hours in a strange, but familiar, futuristic world.