The burial at Thebes A version of Sophocles' Antigone

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Book - 2004

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Subjects
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2004.
Edition
1st American ed
Language
English
Physical Description
79 p.
ISBN
0374117217
Main Author
Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013 (-)
Other Authors
Sophocles (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

/*Starred Review*/ There are many translations of Sophocles' Antigone but few with the understated power and spare beauty of Irish Nobel laureate Heaney's version. He has given the play a new title, The Burial at Thebes, that recalls both Antigone's punishment--to be walled up in a cave-- and the crime for which she is punished. He remains faithful to the letter and the spirit of the play, following the structure of Sophocles' fine storytelling beat-by-beat even as he finds words to make this classic story of conflict between an inflexible autocrat and an intransigent rebel legible to modern readers. Reading Heaney's achievement, it is hard not to think of the ongoing eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye debacle unfolding in Iraq. Written in a muscular but lively style, the translation, like Heaney's best poetry, finds music in the language of the streets and reveals the raw, primal power in the most carefully constructed rhetorical tropes. This is hardly surprising. In 1990 Heaney wrote The Cure at Troy, a translation of Sophocles' Philoctetes, for the Irish Field Day theater company, and met with great critical acclaim. His fine, new translation makes one wish he would don a translator's hat more often. ((Reviewed October 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An updated version of the ancient play by Sophocles retells the tragic story of Creon and his rebellious daughter Antigone, who disobeys her father's command to leave her dead brother unburied and thus incurs the full measure of his wrath.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Sophocles' Antigone, first staged in the fifth century B.C., stands as a timely exploration of the conflict between those who affirm the individual's human rights and those who must protect the state's security. After the War of the Seven Against Thebes, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, learns that her brothers have killed each other, having been forced onto opposing sides of the battle. When Creon, king of Thebes, grants burial to one but forbids it to the "treacherous" other, Antigone defies his order, believing it her duty to bury all of her close kin. Enraged, Creon condemns her to death, and his soldiers wall her up in a tomb. While Creon eventually agrees to Antigone's release, it is too late: in a tragic repetition of events in her family's history, she takes her own life.In this new translation, commissioned by Ireland's Abbey Theatre to commemorate its centenary, Seamus Heaney exposes the darkness and the humanity in Sophocles' masterpiece, and inks it with his own modern and masterly touch.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Sophocles' play, first staged in the fifth century B.C., stands as a timely exploration of the conflict between those who affirm the individual's human rights and those who must protect the state's security. During the War of the Seven Against Thebes, Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, learns that her brothers have killed each other, having been forced onto opposing sides of the battle. When Creon, king of Thebes, grants burial of one but not the "treacherous" other, Antigone defies his order, believing it her duty to bury all of her close kin. Enraged, Creon condemns her to death, and his soldiers wall her up in a tomb. While Creon eventually agrees to Antigone's release, it is too late: She takes her own life, initiating a tragic repetition of events in her family's history.In this outstanding new translation, commissioned by Ireland's renowned Abbey Theatre to commemorate its centenary, Seamus Heaney exposes the darkness and the humanity in Sophocles' masterpiece, and inks it with his own modern and masterly touch.