Read Searching for Sappho: The Lost Songs and World of the First Woman Poet by Philip Freeman Online


For more than twenty-five centuries, all that the world knew of the poems of Sappho—the first woman writer in literary history—were a few brief quotations preserved by ancient male authors. Yet those meager remains showed such power and genius that they captured the imagination of readers through the ages. But within the last century, dozens of new pieces of her poetry havFor more than twenty-five centuries, all that the world knew of the poems of Sappho—the first woman writer in literary history—were a few brief quotations preserved by ancient male authors. Yet those meager remains showed such power and genius that they captured the imagination of readers through the ages. But within the last century, dozens of new pieces of her poetry have been found written on crumbling papyrus or carved on broken pottery buried in the sands of Egypt. As recently as 2014, yet another discovery of a missing poem created a media stir around the world.The poems of Sappho reveal a remarkable woman who lived on the Greek island of Lesbos during the vibrant age of the birth of western science, art, and philosophy. Sappho was the daughter of an aristocratic family, a wife, a devoted mother, a lover of women, and one of the greatest writers of her own or any age. Nonetheless, although most people have heard of Sappho, the story of her lost poems and the lives of the ancient women they celebrate has never been told for a general audience.Searching for Sappho is the exciting tale of the rediscovery of Sappho’s poetry and of the woman and world they reveal....

Title : Searching for Sappho: The Lost Songs and World of the First Woman Poet
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780393242232
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Searching for Sappho: The Lost Songs and World of the First Woman Poet Reviews

  • Danika at The Lesbrary
    2019-06-13 00:02

    I enjoyed this because it has interesting tidbits about ancient Greek society, but there wasn't a lot about Sappho herself. Which makes sense, because there's not a lot that we can know factually, but it did feel a bit padded. (I kind of think it just got written because new Sappho poem discovered -> time for a new book about Sappho!)I was glad that though this is written by a guy, he constantly acknowledges things like "Though it may be tempting to paint this woman as the villain, keep in mind that she was a sex slave." So I was happy to see that.

  • Therese Broderick
    2019-05-28 05:13

    Engaging, often revelatory, solidly-documented yet clearly-worded--this book by Philip Freeman now rests on my "indispensable" shelf. SEARCHING FOR SAPPHO is neither the daily journal of an archeologist digging in Greece, nor a volume of commentary on Greek poetry presented by a literary critic. Instead, it is a rich itinerary for the amateur detective inside all of us; it is an irresistible field guide for anyone who relishes the challenge of scavenger hunts. Deploying a wealth of existing literary and historical artifacts, clues, citations, testimonials, and translations, Mr. Freeman invites us along as he correlates the subject matter embodied in Sappho's surviving poems to some reliable deductions about the geography, culture, domestic life, religion, and political events of the region that Sappho called home in the seventh century BC. Most fascinating to me were his evidence for, and conjectures about, the female predicament--how Sappho lived her life as wealthy daughter, sister to three brothers, prominent wife, devoted mother, passionate lover, respected ceremonial poetess, and role model for women of later centuries. I recommend this worthy book for a wide audience.

  • Zaiga
    2019-06-07 04:06

    If you are a woman who lived thousands of years ago, there is not going to be a whole lot recorded about your life, even if you were a famous poet in your time. The author does his best to use what was known about life for women in the world of ancient Greece, combined with her poetry, to give you a hint of what Sappho's life may have been like. The coolest thing about this book is that all her (known) poetry is included, even the verse fragments that literally are a single word. It is fascinating and a bit haunting.

  • Charlie
    2019-05-27 06:09

    A very easily readable, enjoyable, journey into the world of Sappho and the speculation of how that would have been using her poems, and other sources, to explain how it would have been. Recommended to anyone who even has a passing interest in poetry at all, or classics.

  • Adrienne Bross
    2019-05-23 01:09

    I have no idea why I was never exposed to the writing and story of Sappho, and I'm so glad that I finally managed to enlighten myself. The academic aspect of the book served as a well-rounded introduction to Sappho, and her poetry is beautiful. I actually cried.

  • Daniel Casey
    2019-06-13 03:08

    Any collection of Sappho fragments in a new translation is welcome, however the original work itself isn't too engaging or interesting. In fact, it feels rather superficial, not poorly done just a bit shallow. Still, a good introduction for those unfamiliar with Sappho and her Greek world. I think this would be a good middle school/early high school text

  • Max Rohleder
    2019-05-25 00:16

    Great intro to Sappho and the word of ancient greek women. Best part: all known poems included!!! Her poems, 2,500 years old, are amazingly modern and tremendous works of art that can't fail to affect even the 21st century sensibility.

  • Michele
    2019-06-06 03:07

    This is a beautiful book, and very readable. It gives us translation of what we have of her poetry (supposed to be sung with a lyre) and what we can understand about her life. It's an absolute must for all poetry fans and for anyone interested in women's history.

  • India Nunan
    2019-05-17 03:02

    The facts conveyed through this book were interesting and the poems by Sappho which are included and at several points analysed by the author were beautiful. If this was merely a biography of Sappho or an analysis of her poetry I would have definitely rated this book a lot higher. Instead Freeman repeatedly tried to compare the experiences of Sappho in Ancient Greece to those of a woman living today which felt really forced as he obviously has not lived or shared these experiences. Furthermore he also divulges several 'insights' into her reportedly being a lesbian, which to me felt very staged, like some kind of academic version of mainstream 'lesbian' porn which is in reality being sold to a male heterosexual market. To me, this made the book seem inauthentic and would have been infinitely better if it was written in either a more strictly factual manner or by a woman (preferably one who identifies as a lesbian).

  • Eavan McNeil
    2019-06-13 02:57

    Decent history and look into the world Sappho would have grown up and lived in. I felt the author's translations, though illuminating in parts (describing the translation difficulties and nuances) were less vibrant than Mary Barnard. I also appreciated the weaving of her poetry to the history and biography, especially in regard to sticking with the female perspective that is so lacking, but I just wish there was more! 160 pages of bio/history left me wanting.

  • Eve
    2019-06-16 04:04

    I really loved it. It was a great and easy read. It provided some context of Sappho's poetry which I'm really grateful for. Poems I never cared for suddenly come to life because I understood why they were written, or about what. It's also interesting to have an alternative to Anne Carson's translation. I wish there was more of it.(I questioned some of the historical methods at times and the many assumptions).

  • Toreisii
    2019-06-15 06:10

    Biographical details about Sappho's life are woefully sketchy, but the author did a good job of fleshing out what her life might have been like by discussing the role of women in Ancient Greece. What I could make of Sappho as a person actually made her seem a little petty to me, so it was a good move to include her poems at the end of the book so I could appreciate her as a writer.

  • PigeonSquid
    2019-05-20 06:09


  • JennLynn
    2019-06-10 02:01

    It was interesting learning a bit of the background of everyday life in Ancient Greece. However I found there was a little too much speculation given the scant fragments of text it is based upon.

  • Paul
    2019-05-29 05:11

    Philip Freeman's book is an accessible if not brief introduction to Sappho's surviving poetry and her classical world. Sappho's lost and found songs are well-known for their sensuality and subtlety. There is, however, still only a dearth of definitive details to work with, and scholars have established no more than a speculative sketch of Sappho of Lesbos. This scarcity of hard evidence may well be an opportunity for some contemporary literary master to imagine and thus tell her story--one of whispering fervent prayers for much-needed assistance and making intimate conversation with the goddesses Athena, Artemis, and Aphrodite; and then, penultimately, suddenly, softly, slowly feeling the rosy fingers of moonlight.

  • John Fredrickson
    2019-06-07 06:24

    I was between 3 and 4 stars as a rating for this book. This was a great, very informative introduction to Sappho's life, context, and poetry. The reason for the hesitation is that the author maintains, perhaps correctly, that Sappho could be the greatest lyric poet of our history, and I wanted the book to address this with an examination of the poetry, much more than it did. Some of this was indeed addressed, particularly in the treatment of one poem which involves all five sense in its composition. The poetry fragments are there, but the greatness of them is opaque to me. Overall, the book left me wanting more.

  • Carrie
    2019-05-22 23:59

    Sadly, but maybe not surprisingly, there is very little information on the life of Sappho. Thus, most of the content in this book is about the history that surrounds Ancient Greece in the times Sappho was living. Some of that info made for awesome historical knowledge, but sometimes I got bored by it. This book also features all of Sappho's work, which I didn't have any clue of because I was a bad reader and only surface read the title and table of contents. (Oops!) Much of her work is literally a line or two, but overall I think it was worth the read.

  • Caroline
    2019-05-19 06:57

    Another one of those books where speculation is almost all we have... but it was interesting speculation, and not wildly unfounded. I thought it was fair, and informative about women's lives in the ancient Greek world. The translations of the poems were unfussy; I have a hard time with fragments that are only a couple of words; how do we even know that it's a word from a poem of hers, and how do we know that multiple small fragments might not come from a single poem? - but the few complete poems are striking and beautiful and worth wandering through the many pages of silly little things...

  • Mayze
    2019-06-15 07:20

    Honestly the translation of the poems deserves 5 stars, but the book itself, while interesting, isn't particularly groundbreaking, and the author is rather swift to conflate Greek and Roman source material, and consequently culture.

  • Marge
    2019-05-24 03:23

    Satisfying introduction to the poetry of Sappho. This author also provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of women in ancient Greece.

  • World Literature Today
    2019-06-02 03:10

    This book was featured in the Nota Benes section of the Sept/Oct 2016 issue of World Literature Today Magazine.