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Electra by Sophocles
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Electra

by Sophocles

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581826,454 (3.66)23
Based on the conviction that only translators who write poetry themselves can properly recreate the celebrated and timeless tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the Greek Tragedy in New Translations series offers new translations that go beyond the literal meaning of the Greek inorder to evoke the poetry of the originals. Under the general editorship of Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro, each volume includes a critical introduction, commentary on the text, full stage directions, and a glossary of the mythical and geographical references in the play.Although it has been at times overshadowed by his more famous Oedipus Tyrannus and Antigone, Sophocles' Electra is remarkable for its extreme emotions and taut drama.Electra recounts the murders of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus by Clytemnestra's son Orestes, to avenge their murder of his father Agamemnon, commander of the Greeks at Troy, upon his return home. Sophocles' version is presented from the viewpoint of Electra, Orestes' sister, who laments her father,bears witness to her mother's crime, and for years endures her mother's scorn. Despite her overwhelming passion for just revenge, Electra admits that her own actions are shameful. When Orestes arrives at last, her mood shifts from grief to joy, as Orestes carries out the bloody vengeance.Sophocles presents this story as a savage though necessary act of vengeance, vividly depicting Electra's grief, anger, and exultation. This translation equals the original in ferocity of expression, and leaves intact the inarticulate cries of suffering and joy that fill the play.… (more)

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While I loved the dialogue, the pacing of this Hamlet and Antigone caper was a bit rushed. The chorus was particularly effective, the atmosphere resonates with revenge. Electra pines but does not waste. Her timid sister cringes in comparison to this inferno of vengeance. Then suddenly she has a cohort and the circumstances of his arrival afford their nemesis interlopers opportunity to even further impugn their deeds—or do they?

Aegisthus, what were you thinking? There is a nobility in the Divine. There’s also Icarian agency. Think Cobain, “Come back as Fire/Burn all the liars/Leave a blanket of ash on the ground. The plot was the only one pursued by three of the Greek masters (Euripides and Aeschylus being the other two) which invites comparisons, though apparently the chronology is regrettably unclear. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Hmm. Well. Pound has shifted the play into some kind of 1950s American idiom, which is distracting and anachronistic, but he’s also left a heap of the original ancient Greek in, for dramatic effect. The overall feel is of watching a subtitled film, where the actors have also been badly dubbed into English. Nothing matches, nothing scans, and the whole thing is an unwatchable mess. ( )
  NKarman | Feb 3, 2018 |
50. Electra by Sophocles, translated by Anne Carson
- introduction and notes by Michael Shaw
- editors’ forward by Peter Burian and Alan Shapiro

first performed: c. 405 bce
translation 2001 (Anne's introduction comes from a 1993 lecture)
format: 130 page Oxford University Press paperback
acquired: borrowed from my library
read: Aug 11-15
rating: 4 stars

Just another Greek Tragedy, but this was different in presentation. Anne Carson's translation was excellent and brought alive the tension in Electra's language in the first key first parts of this play. And the two introductions, one by Shaw and the other by Carson, pick apart the play and it's structure, revealing a lot more of what is there.

The play itself is a tragedy with a "happy" ending. Electra is trapped, living with her mother and her mother's lover, she is in serious danger, and cannot marry and bear any children. She can only cooperate. But, her brother Orestes will rescue her by killing their own mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, with the help of some clever word play.

(in front of a covered corpse, that Aegisthus does not know is Clytemnestra.)

Orestes:
This isn't my corpse—it's yours.
Yours to look at, yours to eulogize.

Aegisthus:
Yes good point. I have to agree.
You there—Clytemnestra must be about in the house—
call her for me.

Orestes:
She is right before you. No need to look elsewhere.


Clearly a happy play.

Electra, despite her trap, becomes a presence. She maintains pitiful public devotion to her father, living miserably in mourning, and, in doing so, skillfully wields some power and influence. At the heart of this play is Electra's language and how she works over the other characters. She becomes the fury who harasses the murderers.

"By dread things I am compelled. I know that.
I see the trap closing.
I know what I am. "
( )
  dchaikin | Aug 19, 2016 |
1
  kutheatre | Jun 7, 2015 |
Edition: Fifth Edition // Descr: xv, 216 p. 18 cm. // Series: Call No. { 882 S6 5 } With Notes by R.C. Jebb and R.H. Mather. // //
  ColgateClassics | Oct 26, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (152 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sophoclesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Crofts, ThomasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koolschijn, GerardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masqueray, PaulTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vondel, Joost van denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watling, E.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Young, Sir GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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