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Poets in a Landscape

Poets in a Landscape

by Gilbert Highet, preface by Michael C. J. Putnam

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Gilbert Highet was a legendary teacher at Columbia University, admired both for his scholarship and his charisma as a lecturer. Poets in a Landscape is his delightful exploration of Latin literature and the Italian landscape. As Highet writes in his introduction, “I have endeavored to recall some of the greatest Roman poets by describing the places where they lived, recreating their characters and evoking the essence of their work.” The poets are Catullus, Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Tibullus, Ovid, and Juvenal. Highet brings them life, setting them in their historical context and locating them in the physical world, while also offering crisp modern translations of the poets’ finest work. The result is an entirely sui generis amalgam of travel writing, biography, criticism, and pure poetry—altogether an unexcelled introduction to the world of the classics.

Published in association with the American Academy in Gilbert Highet, preface by Michael C. J. Putnam

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590173381
Pages: 296
Publication Date:


The first celebrity Classicist, a truly extraordinary teacher and scholar.
—Robert J. Ball, Antigone Journal

What a delight to have a new edition of this inspirational book. Highet, professor of classics, broadcaster and literary critic, was famous for his teaching. This book, first published in 1957, is propelled not just by his love for Latin poetry but by a powerful desire to communicate the details of that love, and a manifest skill in doing so....The scholarship is cautious but the teaching personal, so that history is enriched, not swamped, with anecdotes.
The Guardian (UK)

Unlike many scholars he succeeds in getting into the skin of his poets, finding the man in the style...there he can detect a writer's true self.
— Cyril Connolly

Highet is that rarest of finds, the scholarly homme complet, full-blodded, cultured, completely human in his learning.

The Times Literary Supplement (London)

With great love and scholarship...he brings his poets and their troubles fully alive.
— Stevie Smith

This attractive and pleasantly educational work...includes some lucid and enlightening critical interpretation...In tracing the birthplaces and homes of his seven poets Mr. Highet has written sketches of many places in Italy outside the orbit of most tourists...Poets in a Landscape is a strikingly handsome example of bookmaking.
— Orville Prescott, The New York Times

Highet has written what is surely one of the most unusual travel books ever published. It is in one sense an account of a journey to Italy, complete with pictures taken by the author's 'faithful Rolleiflex.' In another sense it is the journal of a trip into the Italy of the past...translated by the author with loving care and capturing as faithfully as possible the meter and structure of the oritinal work.
Los Angeles Times, Robert Kirsch

A delightful, infectious book...Highet writes racily about the Latin poets he admires, putting each in situ with the airy dash now frowned upon in today's dourer academy. He knows much. And enthuses even more. This is a labor of love that is never labored. Highet's attention to prosodic details gets us within earshot of his authors.
The Herald (Glasgow)

A walk back in time to a Roman Italy of 2,000 and the lives of seven Latin poets.
— Jacob Deschin, The New York Times

A guidebook to present-day Italian scenes and an introduction to seven of the great Latin poets, whom we meet on their own grounds...the places and people we meet on this very special trip make this extremely attractive for all who love the beauties of nature and at the same time like to remind themselves of the great works of men and the glories of past civilizations.
— Paul Jordon Smith, Los Angeles Times

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