Ovid and the Moderns
"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 Preface
Theodore 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.