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Sappho the Poet - Books on Sappho


While we have more poetry written by Sappho of Lesbos than any other ancient Greek woman, that is not saying a lot. Still, we have enough details and fragments of Sappho's work to have spawned discussion and disagreement. Here are books on Sappho, translations of her poetry, analyses of her place in the genre of love poetry, and a look at her presumed homosexuality.

The Woman and the Lyre. 1989.

In "The Woman and the Lyre: Women Writers in Classical Greece and Rome," Jane McIntosh Snyder examines 21 authors from Sappho to Egeria, and provides translations, where available, and background information.
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Laughter of Aphrodite

In The Laughter of Aphrodite, classical scholar and ancient historian Peter Green has written an historical mystery about Sappho and the mystery of her life.

Sappho's Immortal Daughters. 1995.

"Sappho's Immortal Daughters," by Margaret Williamson, offers original insights into Sappho's poems, and traces the persistent fictions about Sappho. She also provides the papyrological and textual history of Sappho's texts.
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Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho. 1998

Snyder provides transliterations and translations of Sappho's poetry, and explains Sappho's representation of female desire. She explains how Sappho has influenced modern American women poets.
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Sappho's Lyre. 1991.

Diane J. Rayor's "Sappho's Lyre: Archaic Lyric and Women Poets of Ancient Greece" is an anthology of the surviving archaic female lyric poets, including Sappho, with translations based on recent papyrus discoveries of the works of the male poets Archilochos and Stesichoros.
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Among Women. 2002

"Among Women: From the Homosocial to the Homoerotic in the Ancient World," edited by Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz and Lisa Auanger, is a thorough account of female homoerotic textual (including Sappho, Ovid, and Lucian), funerary, legal, and archaeological materials from prehistoric Greece through A.D. fifth century Egypt.
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Classical Women Poets. 1996.

Josephine Balmer provides background information and translations of the Greek or Latin of all ancient women poets from 600 B.C. to A.D. 500 from whose work we have at least one word. Because of the paucity of material, the book is only 158 pages.
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Eros the Bittersweet. 1998.

Anne Carson's title, Eros the Bittersweet, comes from a literal translation of Sappho's word glukupikron. In Eros the Bittersweet, Carson draws on many sources, including Plato, to examine the ancient concept of desire, both erotic desire and desire for knowledge.
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Fictions of Sappho, 1546-1937. 1989.

Joan Dejean's "Fictions of Sappho" looks at scholarly and fictional views of Sappho and her sexuality.
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Sappho Is Burning. 1997.

A collection of essays, by Page Dubois, challenging conventional interpretations of Sappho.
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Reading Sappho. 1996.

"Reading Sappho: Contemporary Approaches," edited by Ellen Greene, contains articles by Giuliana Lanata, Mary R. Lefkowitz, Gregory Nagy, Charles Segal, Page duBois, Jack Winkler, Claude Calame, Judith Hallett, Eva Stehle, Andre Lardinois, Marilyn B. Skinner, Anne Carson, Ellen Greene, and Margaret Williamson, on topics of gender, as a literary text, and as part of a literary tradition.
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