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Cover

Change Me

Stories of Sexual Transformation from Ovid

Jane Alison, Foreword by Elaine Fantham, and Introduction by Alison Keith

Publication Date - February 2014

ISBN: 9780199941650

176 pages
Paperback
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $19.95

Offers carefully arranged selections from Amores and the Metamorphoses that explore themes of sexuality and transformation, enlivened with fresh translations by novelist Jane Alison

Description

Ovid's stories melt moral conventions, explore ambiguities, and dissolve boundaries between men, women, animals, gods, plants, and the mineral world; in doing so they contrive to seduce readers. Ovid's dark pleasure in telling such stories with a full register of tones is palpable. But the stories of sexual encounter in the Metamorphoses are also infused with deep questions. What does it mean to have thoughts and passions trapped inside a changeable body? What is a self, and where are its edges? If someone can pierce you in sex and in love, how do you survive? And if your outer form changes, what lasts?

In Change Me, Jane Alison, critically acclaimed author of The Love-Artist, renders substantial portions of Ovid's great epic into elegant and remarkably faithful English. Her focus is on episodes that involve desire, sexuality, and the transformations brought about by powerful emotion; because these themes are so central to the Metamorphoses, Alison introduces them with a selection of elegies from Ovid's Amores, the collection with which the poet launched his career. When these selections are taken together, Alison's Ovid comes alive; the Roman poet's great ability to perform contemporary themes through mythical subject matter, and vice versa, is Alison's guiding principle and Muse. Change Me will transform forever readers' experience of this most ingenious of poets.

FEATURES

The thematically organized translations are lucid, apt, precise, and playful

Elaine Fantham's Foreword places Ovid in his Augustan context

Alison Keith's introduction offers an overview of gender and sexuality in the ancient world

Incorporates sixteen color plates from classical antiquity that illustrate Ovidian themes

Audio recordings (read by Alison) of sixteen selected passages are available at www.oup.com/us/alison

About the Author(s)

Jane Alison's previous works on Ovid include her first novel, The Love-Artist (2001) and a song-cycle entitled XENIA (with composer Thomas Sleeper, 2010). Her other books include a memoir, The Sisters Antipodes (2009), and two novels, Natives and Exotics (2005) and The Marriage of the Sea (2003). Currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, she has an A.B. in Classics from Princeton University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

Reviews

"Jane Alison takes on a demanding challenge, translating substantial portions of Ovid's great epic of universal change into elegant and remarkably faithful blank verse. Her focus is on episodes that involve desire, sexuality, and the transformations brought about by powerful emotion; because these themes are so central to the Metamorphoses, Alison introduces them with a selection of elegies from Ovid's Amores, the collection with which the poet launched his career and in which he first displayed his intimate and knowing familiarity with the psychology of desire. When these selections are taken together, Alison's Ovid comes alive; the Roman poet's great ability to perform contemporary themes through mythical subject matter, and vice versa, is Alison's guiding principle and Muse."--Barbara Boyd, Bowdoin College

"Jane Alison finds a key to Ovid's Metamorphoses in the transformations wrought by sexuality. She creates her own Metamorphoses by selecting passages that together tell the story of erotic change, the inception of desire through the gaze, its often transgressive fulfillment, and the lasting disruptions and alterations it brings to lovers, victims, and those around them. First-person accounts of love's effects, drawn from Ovid's earlier Amores, tighten the links between mythical narrative and direct experience. Alison's smart and sensual translations well convey a face of Ovid's work likely to engage and intrigue a modern audience. The volume as a whole will entice new readers to explore this sophisticated poet; those who already know Ovid well will learn to read him differently thanks to Alison's perspective and her nuanced insights into the workings of his narratives."--Andrew Feldherr, Princeton University

"Jane Alison's new translations brilliantly render into English a series of erotic passages from the Amores and various wondrous tales of strange sexuality from Metamorphoses. Alison brings to life the highly visual and poetic content of Ovid's verses and vividly conveys a sense of the Latin meter, narrative pacing, vocabulary, tense use, bizarre forms of naming, and frequent use of the second person apostrophe, making this collection a lively, fresh, and modern version of the Ovidian stories. With Elaine Fantham's essay on Ovid and his Augustan context and Alison Keith's comprehensive overview of gender and sexuality in the ancient world, this book makes for a wonderful introduction to Ovid and his erotic poetry."--Patricia Salzman, Montclair State University

Table of Contents

    Foreword: Elaine Fantham
    Introduction: Alison Keith
    FROM Amores
    1.3 It's only fair
    1.4 So your man will be at the dinner party
    1.5 In slips Corinna
    2.12 I've won!
    3.4 Guarding that girl gets you nothing
    3.11 I'm through with your tricks
    3.12 She's on sale thanks to my talent
    FROM Metamorphoses
    I. LOOKING
    1. Arachne (6.1-145)
    A young weaver challenges the goddess of weaving, Minerva, with a cloth that portrays the gods' sexual exploits.
    2. Daphne (1.452-567)
    Apollo sees this wild girl and wants her. He chases her, terrified, through the forest.
    3. Actaeon (3.138-252)
    Actaeon, a young hunter, sees the virgin goddess Diana naked. It's a mistake, but she will punish him.
    4. Echo and Narcissus (3.339-510)
    Echo can only repeat the words of others. Seeing beautiful Narcissus, she flings herself at him, but he is interested in no one but himself.
    5. Perseus and Andromeda (and Medusa) (4.614-803)
    Winged Perseus, carrying Medusa's snaky head, is almost stilled midair when he sees Andromeda, chained as a sacrifice to a sea monster.
    6. Arethusa (5.577-641)
    A young huntress swims in a strangely still stream, whose god looms up to pursue her.
    7. Pygmalion (10.243-297)
    An artist disgusted by the promiscuous women around him sculpts his dream girl out of ivory.
    II. TAKING
    1. Io (1.568-746)
    Io is raped by Jove, then turned by him into a heifer to protect her from jealous Juno. Now speechless, Io wanders.
    2. Callisto (2.401-507)
    A huntress faithful to Diana is raped by Jove and struggles to hide her pregnancy from the goddess she loves.
    3. Europa (2.833-875)
    Jove, disguised as a white bull, lures young Europa onto his back.
    4. Hermaphroditus and Salmacis (4.285-388)
    The beautiful son of Mercury and Venus attracts the attention of Salmacis when he swims in her personal pool.
    5. Proserpina (5.346-576)
    Proserpina is picking flowers when the Underworld god, Dis, sees her and wants her.
    6. Ganymede (10.143-161)
    Jove loves this Trojan boy and becomes an eagle to abduct him.
    III. RUINING
    1. Semele (3.253-315)
    Juno, enraged that Semele has been sleeping with Jove, tricks her into insisting that Jove come to her in all his fiery power.
    2. Tereus, Procne, and Philomela (6.424-673)
    Tereus, sent to fetch his wife's sister for a visit, becomes violently obsessed with her. His passion leads to catastrophe.
    3. Scylla (8.6-151)
    The daughter of King Nisus, who is at war with Minos, falls in dangerous love with the enemy.
    4. Hyacinth (10.162-219)
    Apollo loves this boy and abandons his usual pursuits to be with him, but a game of discus will separate them.
    5. Adonis (and Atalanta) (10.503-739)
    In love with Adonis, Venus warns him not to hunt savage animals; she tells the story of the runner, Atalanta, who was likewise warned--not to marry.
    6. Glaucus and Scylla (13.898-14.69)
    Fish-man Glaucus loves Scylla, but she wants none of him. Enchantress Circe wants him, though, and is vindictive when refused.
    IV. WANTING SOMEONE TOO CLOSE
    1. Byblis and Caunus (9.454-665)
    Byblis falls in love with her brother and plots to seduce him. She decides to send him a letter, which she can never take back.
    2. Myrrha (10.298-502)
    Myrrha, in love with her father, tries to kill herself to escape disaster but fails and pursues him, helped by her nurse.
    3. Hippolytus (15.497-546)
    When Hippolytus refuses his stepmother's approaches, she accuses him of trying to seduce her.
    V. SWITCHING
    1. Tiresias (3.316-338)
    Juno and Jove argue over who enjoys sex more, man or woman. They ask Tiresias, who has been both.
    2. Iphis and Ianthe (9.666-797)
    Iphis is raised secretly as a boy so that she won't be killed by her father. But she falls in love with another girl and despairs over what to do.
    3. Orpheus and Eurydice (10.1-85)
    When poet Orpheus loses his bride, Eurydice, he follows her to the Underworld. There his music wins them a reprieve but with a condition.
    4. Caenis (12.146-209)
    Neptune rapes Caenis on the beach and asks her what she'd now like as a gift. Her request will ensure she's never raped again.