Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works

Peter Green writes:

For various reasons, many of them neither literary nor trustworthy, Sappho has always exerted a magnetic yet frustrating attraction on later generations. The frustration is due in part to the fact that her poetry is predominantly private, only a small amount of it has survived, and very little has ever been known about her. But it’s also safe to say we’re frustrated because a major feature of our limited knowledge has been, right from the start, the undeniable presence in her work of a clear erotic attachment (in whatever sense) to other women. Since the constant unstated – and, I suspect, often unconscious – determination has been to view her through the powerful but astigmatic lens of romantic idealism, this factor has always caused some embarrassment, not always acknowledged as such.

(LRB 19 November 2015)