Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan war, 'Electra' recounts the tale of Electra and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.
Every era needs the classics on its own terms, so Sophocles' Electra, translated by Anne Carson (The Beauty of the Husband; Forecasts, Dec. 18, 2000), should prove very popular among newcomers and seasoned readers of the sublime dramatist's brutal drama, as well as among Carson's many fans. While Carson renders the book in her signature free verse, her major innovation is the phonetic preservation of Electra's "far from formulaic" screams: "OIMOI," "O TALAINA" and "PHEU PHEU" among them. As Carson writes in her excellent translator's preface, they are not stock ejaculations like "Alas!" or "Woe is me!," but "bones of sound" emitted by the daughter who finds herself cheering her mother's execution. Though Oxford's stock existentialist cover looks like something from the height of '50s abstract angst and the book's paper is pulpy, expect strong sales. ( Apr.)