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The Bad Boy of Athens: Classics from the Greeks to Game of Thrones

Daniel Mendelsohn

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Harper Collins
08 July 2020
Film, TV & Radio; Literature: history & criticism; Cultural studies
'Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho, Homer and Horace ... He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.' Sebastian Barry Over the past three decades, Daniel Mendelsohn's essays and reviews have earned him a reputation as 'our most irresistible literary critic' (New York Times). This striking new collection exemplifies the way in which Mendelsohn - a classicist by training - uses the classics as a lens to think about urgent contemporary debates.

There is much to surprise here. Mendelsohn invokes the automatons featured in Homer's epics to help explain the AI films Ex Machina and Her, and perceives how Ted Hughes sought redemption by translating a play of Euripides (the 'bad boy of Athens') about a wayward husband whose wife returns from the dead. There are essays on Sappho's sexuality and the feminism of Game of Thrones; on how Virgil's Aeneid prefigures post-World War II history and why we are still obsessed with the Titanic; on Patrick Leigh Fermor's final journey, Karl Ove Knausgaard's autofiction and the plays of Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward. The collection ends with a poignant account of the author's boyhood correspondence with the historical novelist Mary Renault, which inspired his ambition to become a writer.

In The Bad Boy of Athens, Mendelsohn provokes and dazzles with erudition, emotion and tart wit while his essays dance across eras, cultures and genres. This is a provocative collection which sees today's master of popular criticism using the ancient past to reach into the very heart of modern culture.
By:   Daniel Mendelsohn
Imprint:   Harper Collins
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   260g
ISBN:   9780008245122
ISBN 10:   0008245126
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   08 July 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Daniel Mendelsohn is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, where he is Editor-at-Large. His books include the international bestseller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and many other honours; An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic, about a transformative journey through Homer's epic, shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford and London Hellenic prizes and winner of the Prix Mediterranee; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; a translation, with commentary, of the complete poems of C.P. Cavafy, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; and two collections of essays. He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York and teaches at Bard college.

Reviews for The Bad Boy of Athens: Classics from the Greeks to Game of Thrones

Praise for The Bad Boy of Athens 'Mendelsohn takes the classical costumes off figures like Virgil and Sappho, Homer and Horace ... He writes about things so clearly they come to feel like some of the most important things you have ever been told.' Sebastian Barry 'Captivating ...His is a vast intellect spanning centuries and genres with ease.' BBC Culture Mendelsohn's points are always passionately argued. He strikes the perfect balance between learned and playful ... One fascinating essay after another from one of America's best critics. Kirkus, starred review Praise for Daniel Mendelsohn 'A scrumptious stylist ... He writes better movie criticism than most movie critics, better theatre criticism than most theatre critics and better literary criticism than just about anyone' Guardian 'A brilliant storyteller, influenced by the Greek masters he so admires' The Times 'Mendelsohn is now, and has been for some time, the finest critic alive ... [The essays] proceed from an unparalleled understanding of the Greek and Roman roots of storytelling, which he braids into reviews with a subtlety and patience that is beautiful to behold ... A supremely entertaining book' Toronto Star 'Mendelsohn ... is a gifted and entertaining writer. His prose is gorgeous and lyrical and his subjects are smartly considered and freshly revealed' Vanity Fair 'Absolutely vital in both senses of the word - required reading for anyone interested in dissecting culture' The Daily Beast 'A joy from start to finish ... A wonderfully eclectic set of musings on the state of contemporary culture and the enduring riches of classical literature' Publishers Weekly


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