Tag: Books: Poetry

Review: The Antigone Poems

Posted 4 December, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Antigone Poems
By: Marie Slaight, Terrence Tasker (Illustrator)
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the publishers via LibraryThing Early Reviewers Programme

Passionate, brutal, and infused with extraordinary lyricism, The Antigone Poems provides a special expedition into the depths of the ancient Sophocles tragedy. The work’s obsessive, ritualistic and ultimately mysterious force brings into sharp focus the heroic, tragic figure at the center of the primordial compact between gods and humans.

The work, a collaboration between poet, Marie Slaight and artist, Terrence Tasker, was created in the 1970’s, while the artist were living in Montreal and Toronto.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme. The premise of the book caught my attention particularly as I recently re-read Sophocles’ Three Plays (Antigone, Oedipus Rex and Electra). I never got around to reviewing/posting about my re-read but the idea of taking the story and sort of conveying some of the strands and emotions through poetry really caught my attention.

Firstly, while I like reading poetry, I don’t think I’m quite the person to review it as I’m never quite sure how to go about it. I think the above premise really captures a sense of what to expect within the pages of this book. The poems aren’t long and are rather sparce and drawn out between chapters and pages. It’s all about the emotion, the sensations, than about who’s saying it, whose perspective these words are coming from. And it is very mysterious, very gritty in its–I can’t even call it pagan, really, “primordial” is the best word here–emphasis. My personal favourite chapter or segment of the poems is Chapter 4; things are really dark in this chapter, the emotions running raw and some of the imagery very visceral.

The drawings included in this volume are very haunting, very dark, and again evokes that sense of raw intensity and is very atmospheric with the poetry. I’m not sure if the layout featured in this ARC will remain in the final, official copy but it works nicely aesthetically with its empty pages and the overall minimalist approach.

Overall, The Antigone Poems is a curious but intriguing piece of artistic work. I don’t think you necessarily have to read the play by Sophocles to understand what’s going on in the poems and what it’s trying to capture. This collection will available in March 2014.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Visit the official website || Order this book from the Book Depository

Review: The Fall of Arthur

Posted 8 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Fall of Arthur
By: J.R.R. Tolkien
Format/Source: Hardback; my copy

The world’s first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur.

The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood, is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred. Already weakened in spirit by Guinevere’s infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordred’s rebels and foreign mercenaries.

Powerful, passionate and filled with vivid imagery, The Fall of Arthur reveals Tolkien’s gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Originally composed by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s, this work was set aside for The Hobbit and lay untouched for 80 years.

Now it has been edited for publication by Tolkien’s son, Christopher, who contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth.

This book was one of my most highly-anticipated novels for 2013. Unlike The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (review), I had a good idea of what to expect from a book like this one this time around. So imagine my glee when my pre-ordered copy finally arrived in the post ^_~

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Review: The Kalevala

Posted 13 July, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Kalevala

The Kalevala is the great Finnish epic, which like The Iliad and The Odyssey, grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric roots. During the first millennium of our era, speakers of Uralic languages (those outside the Indo-European group) who had settled in the Baltic region of Karelia, that straddles the border of eastern Finland and north-west Russia, developed an oral poetry that was to last into the nineteenth century. This poetry provided the basis of the Kalevala. It was assembled in the 1840s by the Finnish scholar Elias Lonnrot, who took ‘dictation’ from the performance of a folk singer, in much the same way as our great collections from the past, from Homeric poems to medieval songs and epics, have probably been set down. Published in 1849, it played a central role in the march towards Finnish independence and inspired some of Sibelius’s greatest works.

I’ve mentioned this story a few times now but I had been reading The Kalevala since about the start of the new year. I started reading it on my Kobo but realised halfway through that the stories weren’t exactly sinking in; the translation that I had was a little heavy and there’s just something awkward about reading folk/epic poetry on a e-Reader (yeah, still getting used to that). So I ended up buying a physical copy of The Kalevala and starting again from the beginning. I will say that the Oxford Classics edition is fantastic in its translation (not sure about the accuracy though), it’s much more accessible than the free ebook version.

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Review: The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

Posted 1 January, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Happy New Year again to you all! Well, I’m starting the new year with not one, but two book reviews, having finished two books I had been reading for the past few days xD

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

Many years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien composed his own version of the great legend of Northern antiquity, recounted here in The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.

In the Lay of the Völsungs is told the ancestry of the great hero Sigurd, the slayer of Fáfnir, most celebrated of dragons; of his awakening of the Valkyrie Brynhild, who slept surrounded by a wall of fire, and of their betrothal; and of his coming to the court of the great princes who were named the Niflungs (or Nibelungs), with whom he entered into blood-brotherhood.

In scenes of dramatic intensity, of confusion of identity, thwarted passion, jealousy, and bitter strife, the tragedy of Sigurd and Brynhild, of Gunnar the Niflung and Gudrún his sister, mounts to its end in the murder of Sigurd, the suicide of Brynhild, and the despair of Gudrún.

The Lay of Gudrún recounts her fate after the death of Sigurd, her marriage against her will to the mighty Atli, ruler of the Huns (the Attila of history), his murder of her brothers, and her hideous revenge.

This is actually the first of a number of books that I will be re-reading from my bookshelf over the course of the year. I mentioned this on GoodReads but Ias in the mood to read something epic so I decided to re-read this book. I also figured that watching ‘Thor’ last week was probably the reason behind my mood for something Scandinavian xD

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