Monday, 3 April 2017

Spring Books 2017

by Philip Hooker

This is based on the latest Bookseller’s Buyer’s Guide which lists the new books which publishers think will be of interest to the general reader (plus some others called in by your editor).

We start with three major works of literary fiction.  Natalie Haynes won acclaim for The Amber Fury and follows this with The Children of Jocasta, the Oedipus stories as seen by Jocasta and Ismene, out in May.   Colm Toibin has House of Names, a version of the Oresteia, as seen by Clytemnestra, due here in May.   Emily Hauser, who made a notable debut with For the Most Beautiful, the Trojan War as seen by Briseis and Chryseis, follows this with For the Winner, the story of Jason and the Argonauts, as seen by Atalanta, out in June.

Elsewhere, we note the latest Lindsey DavisThe Third Nero (April), Margaret GeorgeThe Confessions of Young Nero (March), Robert FabbriArminius: the Limits of Empire, Adrian GoldsworthyVindolanda (starting a new series, due June), Anthony RichesBetrayal: The Centurions I (Galba 68AD), Ian Ross The Mask of Command (Aurelius Castus at the time of Constantine).   And a re-issue of a rarity – Kenneth Benton’s Death on the Appian Way, from 1974.
The highlighted work of non-fiction is Praetorian: The Rise and Fall of Rome’s Imperial Bodyguard by Guy de la Bédoyère, not an academic, but long a member of Time Team and more recently a school-teacher. It has been widely (and favourably) reviewed. Two successes of 2016 – Tim Whitmarsh’s Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World and Daisy Dunn’s Catullus’ Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet – are now out in paperback.

Other scholarly works include Tacitus by Victoria Emma Pagán in the Understanding Classics series, Science Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity by Liba Taub, Politics in the Roman Republic by Henrik Mouritsen, The Ancient Greek Farmstead by Maeve McHugh, Athens Burning (the Persian invasion) by Robert Garland, Hypatia by Edward J Watts in the Women in Antiquity series, The Last Pagan Emperor (Julian) by H C Teitler, and The Classical Art of Command by Joseph Roisman.

New texts and translations include Searching for Sappho – biography and translation – by Philip Freeman, in paperback in May, a new version of Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days by Kimberley Johnson, Plutarch’s The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives, edited by James Romm, and a new commentary on Aeneid Book 3 by Stephen Heyworth and James Morwood.   There is also a new Pocket Museum series from Thames and Hudson – Ancient Greece by David Michael Smith, Ancient Rome by Virginia Campbell – each with 200 illustrated artefacts in one place, with full historical context and notes.    For its part, the British Museum offers Treasures of Ancient Greece - 20 colourful postcards to pull out and send.

In the category “erudite entertainment”, we note The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends and Myths, edited by William Hansen, nearly 400 stories, lavishly illustrated, A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities by J C McKeown, strange tales, surprising facts, ancient medical texts rarely translated – and, something really populist, You Win or You Die: The Ancient World of Game of Thrones by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov, the ancient history behind the George R Martin novels.

Among works for children, we see Who Let the Gods Out? By Maz Evans, Death in the Arena by Caroline Lawrence, The Hidden Oracle and The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan, The Adventures of Hermes (and other works) by Murielle Szac (a big seller in France) and The Mark of the Cyclops, adventure in Ancient Greece, by Saviour Pirotta.

And 28 October 2017 is the date for the next Heffers Classics Forum.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association, and writes regularly for the CA Blog on Classics in the Media.                                                                                          

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