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Ovid and the Moderns
Robert Motherwell Book Award 2005
The winner of the 2005 Robert Motherwell Book Award is Ovid and the Moderns (Cornell Univeristy Press) by Theodore Ziolkowski.
Ovid and the Moderns, impressive in the range of its scholarship and critical sensitivity, was cited by the jury for exploring the modern relevance of a resonant poetic voice from classical antiquity. Theodore Ziolkowski demonstrates the significance of both the poet and his poetry to major authors of the twentieth century, from the founders of high modernism to the post-modernists. In this book, Ovid emerges as the inspiring model of the metamorphic imagination, at once creating and responding to a world in constant change, and also as the exemplary poet-in-exile, the image of the artist alienated from his society and disenchanted with ideology. Throughout history, as Ziolkowski shows, the disruptive Ovidian voice sounds the independent alternative to that of the officially correct Virgil. Ovid and the Moderns concludes by pondering the relevance of Ovid amid the political conditions of the opening years of the twenty-first century, noting that “Classics of the past, and the manner in which they are received, function as sensitive seismographs for detecting the spiritual tremors of any age.” Affirming the significance of the classical tradition for the development of twentieth-century modernism, Theodore Ziolkowski also alerts us to its potential prospects for the future.
Theodore Ziolkowski is Class of 1900 Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University. He is the author most recently of Clio the Romantic Muse: Historicizing the Faculties in Germany (winner of the 2004 Jean-Pierre Barricelli Prize given by the International Conference on Romanticism) and Hesitant Heroes: Private Inhibition, Cultural Crisis, both published by Cornell. His many prizes and awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the James Russell Lowell Prize, a Gold Medal from the Goethe-Institute in Munich, and the Henry Allen Moe Prize.
Also listed by the jurors was: Marjorie Perloff’s Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, published by the University of Alabama Press.
Marjorie Perloff is Sadie D. Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Standford University and is the author of many books, including The Futurist Moment, Wittgenstein’s Ladder, Twenty-First Century Modernism, and The Vienna Paradox, a cultural memoir.
The jury consisted of: Dore Ashton, David Rosand, and Mark Strand.
The Dedalus Foundation was established by the will of Robert Motherwell and is dedicated to fostering the understanding and appreciation of modern art and the traditions of modernism.