Cover image for The last world : with an Ovidian repertory
The last world : with an Ovidian repertory
Ransmayr, Christoph, 1954-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Letzte Welt. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.
General Note:
Translation of: Die letzte Welt.
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Acclaimed as a modern masterpiece and as one of the most important novels of our time. The Lost World is the story of a young man's quest for the exiled poet Ovid and the masterwork he has consigned to the flames. Ransmayr has created a visionary landscape, a transformed place where the ancient world meets the twentieth century. A metaphysical thriller both compelling and profound. The Last World draws the reader into a universe governed by the power or mythology, a world of decay on the brink of apocalypse. A novel about exile, censorship, and the destruction of the planet, this is a cultural and political fable that is blazingly topical, yet timeless.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Austrian writer Ransmayr creates a world that is transformed by myth and art in a hallucinatory speculation of what may have happened to the text of Ovid's Metamorphoses after the Roman poet's banishment and death. Ovid's friend and admirer Cotta embarks on a quest for the manuscript that may have been burned or may have been preserved in part or in whole. Cotta journeys to Ovid's place of exile on the coast of the Black Sea, and there he witnesses a sequence of events that seemingly replicate the missing events of the document itself. The twists and transmutations of form and time are beautifully relayed in Ransmayr's evocation of both the classic muse and of an aesthetic much more contemporaneous with the modern writer's and reader's time. The resulting links between two periods and two places supply a wealth of suggestive connections that reveal literature not as a mirror of reality but as reality itself. --John Brosnahan

Publisher's Weekly Review

This beautifully evocative fable resets in contemporary time the Roman world of the poet Ovidius Naso, exiled in 8 A.D. to barbarous Tomi (in modern Bulgaria) on the Black Sea. Naso's friend Cotta is seeking the poet in Tomi, now an iron-mining town, among characters who are modern counterparts of mythic figures in Naso's Metamorphoses , in which humans were transformed into stars, animals, trees, rocks. Affirming their link to the savage landscape, these people reenact ancient myths, e.g., Dis and Proserpina, gods of Hades, are now Thies, a refugee German grave-digger and his quarrelsome fiancee. Cotta finds the theme of transformation in the mimes of carnival revelers, and in films projected on the slaughterhouse wall of Tereus the butcher. That great authors cannot be silenced, and that myth permeates our lives, are two messages of a book that sometimes stretches too far in its effort to emulate the style of Ovidian epic poetry. Wood's translation from the German is graceful. Ransmayr's first novel, The Terrors of Ice and Darkness , will appear in English in 1991. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This novel--currently being translated into 30 languages--evokes at its best the disintegration of ancient Rome, ``a docile society that submitted to the surveillance of even its bedrooms.'' It is this bureaucratic, repressive society that banishes the poet Ovid. The publisher suggests that the book is a cultural/political fable. If so, it is as unclear as the steps the poet takes, which are retraced by his admirer, Cotta. In the remote port of Tomi strange metamorphoses occur: village idiot into stone, ropemaker into wolf. The reader is helped through the phantasmagoric events and myth-ridden landscape by a 36-page Ovidian repertory of characters, but even with the fine writing, the hailing of this `` quest '' novel as a modern masterpiece leaves this reader as mystified as the stumbling Cotta.-- Peter Bricklebank, City Coll., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.