Staff Pick

Ten years ago at age eighty-four, the renowned poet and translator David Ferry embarked on an English version of Virgil’s Aeneid (Chicago, $35). Now complete, Ferry’s epic arrives already a major prize winner, as two excerpts from the then-work-in-progress appeared in Ferry’s Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations, winner of the 2012 National Book Award for poetry. Ferry, perhaps our foremost authority on Latin verse, delivers further proof that great literature can thrive in a second language on every page of this elegant, nuanced masterpiece. Vivid and flexible, Ferry’s English conveys the stateliness as well as the passion of Virgil’s original. The story, too, with its long wars and their many socio-economic consequences, remains immediate. The Aeneid follows a determined band of Trojan survivors from their ruined city to a promised land that will eventually become the Roman Empire. First, though, these stateless refugees, led by Aeneas, must endure a dystopian-novel’s worth of storms, betrayals, bad decisions, and supernatural wrath. If their ultimate fate, by definition, cannot be in doubt, the voyagers’ individual fortunes are never certain. Caught between the conflicting priorities of mortals and the capricious forces they call gods, the Trojans struggle to do the right thing. They suffer both justly and unjustly. They behave nobly. They cheat. In an apt metaphor for the inescapable PTSD of war, they enslave those they defeat. Have things changed so much since 19 BCE?

The Aeneid Cover Image
By Virgil, David Ferry (Translated by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9780226450186
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: University of Chicago Press - September 29th, 2017

Staff Pick

You’ve probably never seen a book like this before. Zahhak: The Legend of the Serpent King (Fantagraphics, $39.99) is a pop-up book that retells the Iranian myth of the monstrous tyrant Zahhak and his defeat by the noble youth Feraydun. The fantastic art featured within is courtesy of Guggenheim fellow Hamid Rahmanian, drawn from his work adapting the Shahnameh, or Book of Kings. But it’s the pop-up engineering, designed by Simon Arizpe, that makes this book dizzying. Not only do some sections literally erupt from the page, but others unfold as booklets to continue the story, complete with smaller pop-up designs within. Myths remain popular fodder for the imagination, from Neil Gaiman’s adaptation of Norse mythology this year to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson Literary Universe. But with nations across the world (including our own) turning to fear and nationalism, our responsibility to move past Norse and Greek mythology and learn the stories of other countries—their similarities, and their differences—is more crucial than it’s ever been. Kids will love this book, but adults will learn something from it too.

Zahhak: The Legend of the Serpent King (a Pop-Up Book) Cover Image
By Hamid Rahmanian (Artist), Simon Arizpe (Artist)
$39.99
ISBN: 9781606998892
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Fantagraphics Books - October 2nd, 2018

Staff Pick

“Tell me about a complicated man. / Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost / when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, / and where he went, and who he met, the pain / he suffered in the storms at sea, and how / he worked to save his life and bring his man / back home.” In a graceful return to iambic pentameter, Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey (W.W. Norton, $39.95) is resonant and light footed, swift and lithe. It also happens to be the first, in all 432 years since Homer was first translated into English, by a woman. The volume itself is a luminous beauty, well spaced, readable, with a thorough glossary, hand-drawn maps, and an enthralling but unencumbered translator’s note that heroically balances the interests and prerogatives of both casual or first-time readers and scholars long engaged with the epic.  It has never been a better time to pick up this foundational work!

The Odyssey Cover Image
By Homer, Emily Wilson (Translator)
$39.95
ISBN: 9780393089059
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2017