Friday, April 30, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Books

This definitely seems as if it might be worth the battle over time that it would take for me to be able to sit down and read:

The Burial at Thebes
by Seamus Heaney

...classic literature always exceeds itself in the recognitions made by succeeding generations.

Neo-Classicism, I suppose, is about due for another bout.

The play therefore stages a deadly struggle between principle and pragmatism and between private, familial loyalties - conceived by Sophocles as the gods of the underworld - and the citizen's responsibilities to the state, which Seamus Heaney's new version calls the "god in upper air". Part of the play's enduring strength is its susceptibility to allegorical interpretation. During the second world war, for instance, Bertolt Brecht made an adaptation in which Antigone becomes the embodiment of his hope for a German rising against Hitler. (When Heaney has Creon say "There is no 'is' any more", I wonder if he's remembering what Primo Levi tells us that he was told in Auschwitz: "Here there is no why.") Neil Corcoran

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