What We Are Reading Today: Sophocles: A Study of His Theater in Its Political and Social Context

Updated 31 July 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Sophocles: A Study of His Theater in Its Political and Social Context

  • Sophocles was the commanding figure of his day
  • He was not only the leading dramatist but also a distinguished politician, military commander, and religious figure

Here, for the first time in English, is celebrated French classicist Jacques Jouanna’s magisterial account of the life and work of Sophocles. Exhaustive and authoritative, this acclaimed book, translated to English by Steven Rendall, combines biography and detailed studies of Sophocles’ plays, all set in the rich context of classical Greek tragedy and the political, social, religious, and cultural world of Athens’ greatest age, the fifth century.

Sophocles was the commanding figure of his day. The author of Oedipus Rex and Antigone, he was not only the leading dramatist but also a distinguished politician, military commander, and religious figure. And yet the evidence about his life has, until now, been fragmentary.

Reconstructing a lost literary world, Jouanna has finally assembled all the available information, culled from inscriptions, archaeological evidence, and later sources. He also offers a huge range of new interpretations, from his emphasis on the significance of Sophocles’ political and military offices (previously often seen as honorary) to his analysis of Sophocles’ plays in the mythic and literary context of fifth-century drama.

Written for scholars, students, and general readers, this book will interest anyone who wants to know more about Greek drama in general and Sophocles in particular. 


What We Are Reading Today: John Adams by David McCullough

Updated 46 min 3 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: John Adams by David McCullough

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot — “the colossus of independence,” as Thomas Jefferson called him — who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution. 

Like his masterly, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, David McCullough’s John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel, says a review published in goodreads.com.

It is both a riveting portrait of an abundantly human man and a vivid evocation of his time, much of it drawn from an outstanding collection of Adams family letters and diaries. In particular, the more than 1,000 surviving letters between John and his wife Abigail Adams provide extraordinary access to their private lives and make it possible to know John Adams as no other major American of his founding era.