Penthesilea: A Tragic Drama

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Harper Collins, Nov 25, 1998 - Drama - 159 pages
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An army of Amazons sets out to conquer Greek heroes for the purpose of stocking their women's state with new female offspring. They blast into the midst of the Trojan War, confusing Greeks and Trojans alike and for a moment forcing those enemies into a terrified alliance. When Achilles, the pride and mainstay of the Greeks, and Penthesilea (Pen-te-sil-lay-uh), queen of the Amazons, meet, a chase begins,

The like of which not even the wildest storms
Set loose to thunder across the plain of heaven
Have yet presented to the astonished world,

and it is the queen who is hunting Achilles, to the uncomprehending horror of the Greeks. Thus begins a tragedy of love in a world governed by the rules of war, on which "the gods look down but from afar."

For the first time, in this splendidly illustrated book, an English translation recreates the audaity, romance, and poetry of one of the strangest and most beautiful works of Western literature.

 

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Penthesilea: a tragic drama

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Kleist's obscure and complex early 19th-century play is here translated by Guggenheim Fellow Agee in blank verse, a more formal version than Martin Greenberg's translation (Five Plays, Yale Univ ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) was virtually forgotten until the beginning of the twentieth century, when Rilke, Kafka, and Thomas Mann hailed him as a master of German prose and European dramatic literature. During Kleist's lifetime, Goethe, sensing in the younger man his greatest rival, carefully withheld from him the endorsement that would have established his reputation. At the age of thirty-four, impoverished and in debt, despairing of the literary honor he had hoped to gain for his family, Kleist consummated a suicide pact with an incurably ill married woman. Ironically, the spectacular circumstances of his death helped to rescue his oeuvre--primarily eight stories and eight plays--from oblivion.

Joel Agee has translated numerous German authors into English, including Heinrich von Kleist, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Elias Canetti. In 2005 he received the Modern Language Association's Lois Roth Award for his translation of Hans Erich Nossack's "The End: Hamburg 1943".

Maurice Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. While in high school, he worked part time as an illustrator for All-American Comics adapting the Mutt and Jeff newspaper comic strip to a comic book format. His first professional illustrations were for a physics textbook, Atomics for the Millions, published in 1947. He later worked as a window-display director for F.A.O. Schwartz while attending night school at the Art Students League. In 1950, he illustrated his first children's book The Wonderful Farm by Marcel Aymé. He wrote his first children's book Kenny's Window in 1956 and went on to become a prolific author-illustrator. His works include Chicken Soup with Rice; In the Night Kitchen; Outside Over There; Higglety Pigglety Pop; The Sign on Rosie's Door; We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy; Brundibar; Bumble Ardy; and My Brother's Book. He received numerous awards including the Caldecott medal for Where The Wild Things Are in 1964, the Hans Christian Andersen International Medal in 1970, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the National Medal of Arts in 1996. Characters from two of his books were the basis of an animated television special, Really Rosie, which first aired in 1975. He was also the set designer and lyricist for a subsequent off-Broadway musical of the same title. He was the lyricist, as well as the set and costume designer, for the original production of an opera based on Where The Wild Things Are in 1980. In addition, he has designed sets and costumes for performances of operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, and other classical composers. He died due to complications from a recent stroke on May 8, 2012 at the age of 83.

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