I have an absolute gem of a book to bring to your attention today, from one of the UK’s fine stable of small publishers, the Rose Press. Jocasta is a re-interpreatation of some of the most important – and oldest – plays in literary history, the Theban Plays by Sophocles. Here Brian Aldiss – surely one of the English language’s finest treasures – allows us to view the events which lead Oedipus to his tragic fate, ordained years before, to kill his father and marry his mother from the point of view of Queen (and mother and lover) Jocasta.
With the consummate skill of a master storyteller Aldiss weaves Classical Greek mythology into the fabric – Oedipus has a pet Sphinx for example – and even has the realms of reality and imagination interact as Jocasta meets Sophocles himself. The original plays themselves come to us from a time when human civilisation was seriously beginning to question what humanity actually was through philosophical discourse, theology and the arts, a legacy which has informed Western civilisation for thousands of years – rich ground for a gifted and erudite writer.
This edition is presented in a faux-leather hardback binding with etched gold lettering and illustrations within. It is strictly limited to a mere 750 copies and frankly I think it is one of the most gorgeous-looking books I have seen in a long time, perfectly complimenting the prose within the covers. Jocasta may not be for everyone but for the discerning reader it promises multi-layered delights of narrative, mythology and literature, certain to appeal to readers who adored Holdstock’s Merlin Codex or the works of Neil Gaiman.