Cover image for Classics revisited
Title:
Classics revisited
Author:
Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905-1982.
Publication Information:
New York : New Directions, [1986]

©1986
Physical Description:
ix, 214 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Reprint. Originally published: New York : Avon, 1968.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1210 Lexile.
ISBN:
9780811209878

9780811209885
Format :
Book

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PN511 .R57 1986 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Poet, translator, essayist, and voracious reader--Kenneth Rexroth was an omnivore in the fields of literature. The brief, radiant essays of Classics Revisited discuss sixty key books that are, for Rexroth, "basic documents in the history of the imagination." Ranging from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Huckleberry Finn, these pieces (each about five pages long) originally appeared in the Saturday Review. Distinguished by Rexroth's plain, wide-awake style, Classics Revisited presents complex ideas in simple language, energized by the author's air of talking eye-to-eye with his reader. Elastic, at home in several languages, Rexroth is not bound by East or West; he leaps nimbly from Homer to The Mahabharata, from Lady Murasaki to Stendhal. It is only when we pause for breath that we notice his special affinities: for Casanova, lzaak Walton, Macbeth, Icelandic sagas, classical Japanese poetry. He has read everything. In Sterne, he sees traces of the Buddha; in Fielding, hints of Confucius. "Life may not be optimistic," Rexroth maintains in his introduction, "but it certainly is comic, and the greatest literature presents man wearing the two conventional masks; the grinning and the weeping faces that decorate theatre prosceniums. What is the face behind the mask? Just a human face--yours or mine. That is the irony of it all--the irony that distinguishes great literature--it is all so ordinary."


Author Notes

Kenneth Rexroth was born in South Bend, Indiana, and worked at a wide variety of jobs, being largely self-educated. In the late 1950s, he won a number of awards, including an Amy Lowell Travelling Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters Literature Award. He translated widely, mainly from the Japanese, and wrote a lively account of his life, An Autobiographical Novel. His work influenced many younger poets, such as Snyder, and continued in part the traditions of imagism and objectivism. A critic as well as a poet, his collections of essays include American Poetry in the Twentieth Century (1971) and Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century (1975).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Kenneth Rexroth was born in South Bend, Indiana, and worked at a wide variety of jobs, being largely self-educated. In the late 1950s, he won a number of awards, including an Amy Lowell Travelling Fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Award, and a National Institute of Arts and Letters Literature Award. He translated widely, mainly from the Japanese, and wrote a lively account of his life, An Autobiographical Novel. His work influenced many younger poets, such as Snyder, and continued in part the traditions of imagism and objectivism. A critic as well as a poet, his collections of essays include American Poetry in the Twentieth Century (1971) and Communalism: From Its Origins to the Twentieth Century (1975).

(Bowker Author Biography)


Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
The Epic of Gilgameshp. 1
Homer The Iliadp. 4
Homer The Odysseyp. 7
Beowulfp. 10
Njal's Sagap. 13
Jobp. 16
The Mahabharatap. 20
The Kalevalap. 24
Sappho Poemsp. 28
Aeschylus The Oresteiap. 32
Sophocles The Theban Playsp. 35
Euripidesp. 39
Herodotus Historyp. 42
Thucydides The Peloponnesian Warp. 45
Plato The Trial and Death of Socratesp. 48
Plato The Republicp. 52
The Greek Anthologyp. 56
Lucretius On the Nature of Thingsp. 60
Livy Early Romep. 64
Julius Caesar: The War in Gaulp. 67
Petronius The Satyriconp. 70
Tacitus Historiesp. 73
Plutarch Parallel Livesp. 77
Marcus Aurelius: The Meditationsp. 80
Apuleius The Golden Assp. 83
Medieval Latin Lyricsp. 86
Tu Fu: Poemsp. 90
Classic Japanese Poetryp. 94
Lady Murasaki: The Tale of Genjip. 97
Chaucer Canterbury Talesp. 101
Rabelais The Adventures of Gargantua and Pantagruelp. 105
Marco Polo: The Travels of Marco Polop. 108
Thomas More: Utopiap. 111
Machiavelli The Princep. 115
Malory Le Morte D'Arthurp. 118
Montaigne Essaysp. 121
Cervantes Don Quixotep. 124
Shakespeare Macbethp. 128
Shakespeare The Tempestp. 131
Webster The Duchess of Malfip. 134
Ben Jonson: Volp1p. 139
Izaak Walton: The Compleat Anglerp. 142
John Bunyan: The Pilgrim's Progressp. 145
Tsao Hsueh Chin: The Dream of the Red Chamberp. 148
Giacomo Casanova: History of My Lifep. 151
Henry Fielding: Tom Jonesp. 154
Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentp. 158
Restif De La Bretonne: Monsieur Nicolasp. 163
Edward Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empirep. 166
Stendhal The Red and the Blackp. 169
Baudelaire Poemsp. 173
Karl Marx: The Communist Manifestop. 177
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grassp. 180
Dostoievsky The Brothers Karamazovp. 184
Gustave Flaubert: A Sentimental Educationp. 187
Tolstoy War and Peacep. 190
Rimbaud Poemsp. 194
Edmond and Jules De Goncourt: Journalp. 199
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finnp. 203
Chekhov Playsp. 207
Afterwordp. 211
Introductionp. vii
The Epic of Gilgameshp. 1
Homer The Iliadp. 4
Homer The Odysseyp. 7
Beowulfp. 10
Njal's Sagap. 13
Jobp. 16
The Mahabharatap. 20
The Kalevalap. 24
Sappho Poemsp. 28
Aeschylus The Oresteiap. 32
Sophocles The Theban Playsp. 35
Euripidesp. 39
Herodotus Historyp. 42
Thucydides The Peloponnesian Warp. 45
Plato The Trial and Death of Socratesp. 48
Plato The Republicp. 52
The Greek Anthologyp. 56
Lucretius On the Nature of Thingsp. 60
Livy Early Romep. 64
Julius Caesar: The War in Gaulp. 67
Petronius The Satyriconp. 70
Tacitus Historiesp. 73
Plutarch Parallel Livesp. 77
Marcus Aurelius: The Meditationsp. 80
Apuleius The Golden Assp. 83
Medieval Latin Lyricsp. 86
Tu Fu: Poemsp. 90
Classic Japanese Poetryp. 94
Lady Murasaki: The Tale of Genjip. 97
Chaucer Canterbury Talesp. 101
Rabelais The Adventures of Gargantua and Pantagruelp. 105
Marco Polo: The Travels of Marco Polop. 108
Thomas More: Utopiap. 111
Machiavelli The Princep. 115
Malory Le Morte D'Arthurp. 118
Montaigne Essaysp. 121
Cervantes Don Quixotep. 124
Shakespeare Macbethp. 128
Shakespeare The Tempestp. 131
Webster The Duchess of Malfip. 134
Ben Jonson: Volp1p. 139
Izaak Walton: The Compleat Anglerp. 142
John Bunyan: The Pilgrim's Progressp. 145
Tsao Hsueh Chin: The Dream of the Red Chamberp. 148
Giacomo Casanova: History of My Lifep. 151
Henry Fielding: Tom Jonesp. 154
Laurence Sterne: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentp. 158
Restif De La Bretonne: Monsieur Nicolasp. 163
Edward Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empirep. 166
Stendhal The Red and the Blackp. 169
Baudelaire Poemsp. 173
Karl Marx: The Communist Manifestop. 177
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grassp. 180
Dostoievsky The Brothers Karamazovp. 184
Gustave Flaubert: A Sentimental Educationp. 187
Tolstoy War and Peacep. 190
Rimbaud Poemsp. 194
Edmond and Jules De Goncourt: Journalp. 199
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finnp. 203
Chekhov Playsp. 207
Afterwordp. 211