Read Black Sparta by Naomi Mitchison Free Online
Book Title: Black Sparta|
The author of the book: Naomi Mitchison
Edition: Pomona Press
The size of the: 668 KB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: January 1st 2006
ISBN 13: 9781406794458
Format files: PDF
Loaded: 1196 times
Reader ratings: 6.1
Read full description of the books:
1928 collection of thirteen short stories dealing with Sparta in the 400-500s BC. The author made the characters very sympathetic. Although separated from ancient Greece by millennia we still have the same feelings and emotions. I enjoyed every story--each a vivid snapshot of its time. Many were character or psychological sketches. More like 4.75 because of unevenness of the poems. Why did she even include them?
I liked best:
"Krypteia": murder of a helot by an unblooded Spartan warrior, then his attempt to save the helot's son from the Krypteia.
"The Lamb Misused": the escape of two Spartan prisoners from a helot farm on Ithome, with the aid of the housewife's sister and their 'repayment' to her for her help.
"Take Back Your Bay Wreath": the remorse and guilt of a young Spartan who has just won a wrestling match after careless, quarrelsome words are flung at his best friend whom he also ignores. Is their friendship broken?
"The Highbrow": killing of a newly freed Athenian slave by a Spartan because of the Athenian's attacking him first, after a children's game.
"Who Will You Have for 'Nuts in May'": moral dilemma of Athenian ambassador to Persia: should he escape with a young Spartan slave boy or take revenge on him for the war?
"Black Sparta" [the title story and my favorite in the collection]: a Spartan, returning from war, frees from captivity a helot who had fought beside him and who had been his friend. Will the Spartan keep his promise to help the man flee Sparta or will he betray him to the Krypteia? This story explores the themes of freedom and of the extent of one's duty to a Fascist state.
These stories were interspersed with some poems of the author, mainly on classical subjects and of varying quality. It might help if people know something of the background of that period : rivalry between Athens and Sparta; Spartan society; Peloponnesian War; and Greco-Persian War. I want to read more Mitchison: she seems like a precursor to Mary Renault, for instance.
Upon rereading [August 2015] I noted this time, which I must have not paid much attention to before, an excerpt from a letter by Plutarch to his brother Lamprias in which he mentions a situation similar to that in "Black Sparta". This Spartan doesn't hesitate in saving the life of a helot, but Plutarch mentions the outcome. Mitchison must have based her short story on this incident. No wonder the title story immediately proceeds this letter.
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Read information about the authorNaomi Mitchison, author of over 70 books, died in 1999 at the age of 101. She was born in and lived in Scotland and traveled widely throughout the world. In the 1960s she was adopted as adviser and mother of the Bakgatla tribe in Botswana. Her books include historical fiction, science fiction, poetry, autobiography, and nonfiction, the most popular of which are The Corn King and the Spring Queen, The Conquered, and Memoirs of a Spacewoman.
Mitchison lived in Kintyre for many years and was an active small farmer. She served on Argyll County Council and was a member of the Highlands and Islands Advisory Panel from 1947 to 1965, and the Highlands and Islands Advisory Consultative Council from 1966 to 1974.
Praise for Naomi Mitchison:
"No one knows better how to spin a fairy tale than Naomi Mitchison."
-- The Observer
"Mitchison breathes life into such perennial themes as courage, forgiveness, the search for meaning, and self-sacrifice."
-- Publishers Weekly
"She writes enviably, with the kind of casual precision which ... comes by grace."
-- Times Literary Supplement
"One of the great subversive thinkers and peaceable transgressors of the twentieth century.... We are just catching up to this wise, complex, lucid mind that has for ninety-seven years been a generation or two ahead of her time."
-- Ursula K. Le Guin, author of Gifts
"Her descriptions of ritual and magic are superb; no less lovely are her accounts of simple, natural things -- water-crowfoot flowers, marigolds, and bright-spotted fish. To read her is like looking down into deep warm water, through which the smallest pebble and the most radiant weed shine and are seen most clearly; for her writing is very intimate, almost as a diary, or an autobiography is intimate, and yet it is free from all pose, all straining after effect; she is telling a story so that all may understand, yet it has the still profundity of a nursery rhyme.
-- Hugh Gordon Proteus, New Statesman and Nation
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