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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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Catullus and Lesbia Translated in Women’s Historical Novels

Catullus and Lesbia Translated in Women’s Historical Novels

(p.274) (p.275) 20 Catullus and Lesbia Translated in Women’s Historical Novels
Classics in the Modern World

Elena Theodorakopoulos

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the portrayal of Catullus and Lesbia in contemporary women’s writing, in particular in three historical novels (The Key, by Benita Kane Jaro, The Floating Book, by Michelle Lovric, and Counting the Stars, by Helen Dunmore). All three have included their own translations and versions of Catullus’ poems in their novels. In the context of recent scholarship on feminism and women’s historical fiction, which highlights the tendency of such works to reclaim marginal or oppressed voices, the argument is that women’s reading and writing may open the way to different interpretations of the character of Lesbia, and of the relationship evoked in the poems. The conclusion of the chapter is that Dunmore and Lovric have succeeded in creating images of Clodia/Lesbia that are more nuanced than ever, and that Dunmore’s translations have given us a new Catullus, too.

Keywords:   Catullus, Lesbia, historical novels, women’s writing, feminism

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