The Summer of Aeschylus & Other Summer Reading

beach_books(2)I am always fascinated by summer reading articles.  They tell us that we won’t be able to read classics on vacation.  They tell us we have vowed to read Proust, but won’t do it.  They tell us we will apparently be too stoned on ganja on that island to read.

Well, they won’t tell us that.

I’m not going to an island this summer.

For me it will be the summer of Aeschylus.

My deepest regret is that I didn’t take that Aeschylus seminar in graduate school.  (Writing a freelance feature on my wedding day wasn’t a good choice, but it wasn’t life-changing.)

Aeschylus Prometheus BoundIf I could go back in time,  I would enroll in the Aeschylus seminar.

So now you see why I have to read Aeschylus.

I am making up for the semester that was my last chance to take an Aeschylus seminar.

This summer I will read parts of Aeschylus in Greek, parts in English.

I have begun with the David Grene translation of Prometheus Bound.

Bright light, swift-winged winds, springs of the river, numberless
laughter of the sea’s waves, earth, mother of all, and the all-seeing
circle of the sun:  I call on you to see what I, a God, suffer
at the hands of Gods–
see with what kind of torture
worn down I shall wrestle ten thousand
years of time–

As Grene says in the introduction,

We are never told why Zeus wished to destroy man.  There is no indication what sort of animal he wished to put in his place, but, insofar as Prometheus in disobedience to Zeus enlightened man by the gift of intelligence, it may be assumed that Zeus’s creation would have had no such dangerous potentialities of development.

Prometheus says:

In helping man I brought my troubles on me;
but yet I did not think that with such tortures
I should be wasted on these airy cliffs–

It is the Summer of Aeschylus.

OTHER SUMMER READING.  It is the 40th anniversary of the publication of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying. What do you think of the new cover for the Penguin Deluxe Classic edition of Fear of Flying?

Fear of Flying erica jong

Erica Jong’s heroine’s “zipless fuck” doesn’t look like much fun here, does it?  I mean, just lying there, unzipped?

I prefer the more feminist rendering of the “zipless” on the old cover art.

Erica Jong Fear of Flying originalAnd I prefer Jong’s narrative to the cover art.

What do you think?

I am now reading Jong’s fascinating sequel to FOF, How to Save Your Own Life, which has given me more ideas for summer reading.

How to Save Your Own LIfe erica JongThe heroine, Isadora Wing, now a famous writer, is stuck reading galleys of friends’ novels.

Reading was becoming more and more of a chore. I yearned for the days when I could sitdown with a copy of Bleak House or Tom Jones without thinking guiltily of the galleys on the floor by my desk.

Should I read Bleak House again?

Perhaps Tom Jones is more in the spirit of Jong’s books.

Tom_Jones_by_Henry_FieldingI do like this cover.