Alexander is an accomplished poet, novelist, biographer, and translator who has lived in Italy for more than thirty years. Translating a poet of such variety and vitality as Horace calls on all his literary abilities. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 bce), was born the son of a freed slave in southern rural Italy and rose to become one of the most celebrated poets in Rome and a confidante of the most powerful figures of the age, including Augustus Caesar. His poetry ranges over politics, the arts, religion, nature, philosophy, and love, reflecting both his intimacy with the high affairs of the Roman Empire and his love of a simple life in the Italian countryside. Alexander translates the diverse poems of the youthful Satires and the more mature Odes with freshness, accuracy, and charm, avoiding affectations of archaism or modernism. He responds to the challenge of rendering the complexities of Latin verse in English with literary sensitivity and a fine ear for the subtleties of poetic rhythm in both languages. This is a major translation of one of the greatest of classical poets by an acknowledged master of his craft.
John Svarlien's lively blank-verse translation reflects the wide range of styles and tones deployed throughout Horace's eighteen sermones or "conversations," deftly reproducing their distinctive humor while tracking the poet's changing mannerisms and moods.
David Mankin's Introduction offers a brief account of the political upheavals in which Horace participated as well as the social setting in which his Satires were produced, and points up hallmarks of the poets distinctive brand of satire. His detailed commentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at Roman society and an often between-the-lines examination of a key work of one of Rome's sharpest observers.
Born in Seattle, a city then uniquely free from racial tensions and prejudices, Cayton found the privileged, secure, middle-class position of his well-to-do parents ineffectual against the gradual spread of racism that was sweeping America. His disarmingly honest autobiography is the ever-absorbing record of an intelligent, sensitive, and proud man's attempts to find identity in a confusing and conflicting chaos of black and white, in a nation that, although dedicated to equality, somehow managed to deny this ideal by almost every action.
Although his turbulent life was complicated by the color barrierâoften resulting in reverses and frustrations that have rendered him close to a breakdownâthis alone is not what makes Cayton's book such captivating reading. Wholly lacking in self-pity or special pleading, Horace Cayton has written a personal narrative of unfailing interest on any number of scores, a book that ranks with the best of American autobiographical writing. For it manages to remain highly critical without once resorting to bitterness; to be filled with hope, though not always hopeful; and brims with compassion and bemused and acute insights into a troubled society. It is a telling, almost poetic tribute to the resiliency of black culture.