Metamorphica

Zachary Mason, 1974-

Book - 2018

In the tradition of his bestselling debut novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason's Metamorphica transforms Ovid's epic poem of endless transformation. It reimagines the stories of Narcissus, Pygmalion and Galatea, Midas and Atalanta, and strings them together like the stars in constellations--even Ovid becomes a story. It's as though the ancient mythologies had been rewritten by Borges or Calvino; Metamorphica is an archipelago in which to linger for a while; it reflec...ts a little light from the morning of the world.

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Subjects
Genres
Adaptations
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2018.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xi, 282 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780374208646
0374208646
Main Author
Zachary Mason, 1974- (author)
  • Aphrodite
  • Athena
  • Zeus
  • Nemesis
  • Dionysos
  • Apollo
  • Death
  • Aphrodite, continued.
Review by Booklist Reviews

In his debut, The Lost Books of the Odyssey (2010), Mason, a computer scientist, reimagined The Odyssey; in this follow-up, he once again offers variations on classical myths. Inspired by and expanding upon Ovid's Metamorphoses, Mason uses the classical names given to constellations to structure brief explorations of numerous Greek and Roman figures, such as Minos, Theseus, Odysseus, Atalanta, and Apollo. Like the ancient texts he is inspired by, Mason humanizes each figure, whether godly or mortal, often using a first-person perspective to inhabit their personal struggles and relationships with other characters. Although he does orient the reader with a brief introduction to each character, some familiarity with these myths is helpful, particularly in order to appreciate his changes. A fractured, multilayered text reminiscent of Alan Lightman's classic Einstein's Dreams (1992) and similar to Madeline Miller's similarly themed Song of Achilles (2012), Mason's novel is written in beautiful prose that almost reads like blank verse. Mason once again displays his ability to transform classical creations into a tale that is distinctly his own. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Mason, who debuted by reimagining the travels and travails of Odysseus in his New York Times best-selling The Lost Books of the Odyssey, now reimagines Ovid's epic poem about ceaseless change. (In between was a second, much-praised novel, Void Star.) Narcissus, Pygmalion and Galatea, Midas and Atalanta, even Ovid himself are all seen in a bright new light. Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Written in narrative fragments, with robust imagination and deft language, Mason's acclaimed debut novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, attempted to unhinge the story of Odysseus from its historically dominated Homeric version. Here, the author reimagines the epic poem Metamorphoses, reconstructing the stories of Orpheus, Persephone, Phaedra, and the rest of the characters in Ovid's magnum opus through his own literary lens. Using constellations as a framing device, Mason writes each account as its own self-contained myth, but in aggregation the stories form imaginary lines that constitute a pattern. The emerging model underscores Ovid's central thesis, the necessity and pain of transformation from identity to form. This thought is echoed in Midas's rumination that gold has no history, only endless transformation into ships and cities. VERDICT Classicists and readers familiar with the Metamorphoses will luxuriate in Mason's imagination and beautiful language, while those unfamiliar with Mason or Ovid might find this novel of narrative fragments an unreadable work of experimental literary conceit. [See Prepub Alert, 1/22/18.]—Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY Copyright 2018 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Mason (Void Star) reworks Greek myths into mostly melancholic fragments in this impressive collection of flash fictions that accentuate the pain, frustrations, and regrets of well-known and unfamiliar myths. Each section centers loosely on a single god, showing the ways they debilitated successive family lines and interconnected figures. Athena's stories float around the edges of The Odyssey, capturing the bleak aftermath of the abandonment of Calypso and revenge of Ajax. The Zeus cycle follows Europa's lineage, including Minos's section—a heartbreaking look at his belated anguish for mistreating his friend Daedalus. In the sections for Philemon and Baucis and Daphne, Mason rejects the characters' traditional transformations into trees to show deeper rewards and punishments. The strongest story of the Nemesis portion has a Clytemnestra bursting with her rage at the sacrifice of her daughter. Alcestis's section strips away the romance of a wife willing to die in place of her husband, Admetus. Mason mashes Gilgamesh and Theseus together and makes Atalanta a haughty lesbian. It's heavy but never plodding; readers familiar with Greek mythology will appreciate Mason's mournful riffs highlighting the darker recesses of mythology. (July) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Presents a reimagining of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" that artfully reconstructs and astrologically connects the stories of such classic figures as Narcissus, Pygmalion, and Midas.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The author of the best-selling The Lost Books of the Odyssey presents a reimagining of Ovid's Metamorphoses that artfully reconstructs and astrologically connects the stories of such classic figures as Narcissus, Pygmalion and Midas.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A brilliant and daring novel that reimagines Ovid’s MetamorphosesIn the tradition of his bestselling debut novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason’s Metamorphica transforms Ovid’s epic poem of endless transformation. It reimagines the stories of Narcissus, Pygmalion and Galatea, Midas and Atalanta, and strings them together like the stars in constellations—even Ovid becomes a story. It’s as though the ancient mythologies had been rewritten by Borges or Calvino; Metamorphica is an archipelago in which to linger for a while; it reflects a little light from the morning of the world.