Robert Bagg: Poems, Greek Plays, Essays, Novels, Memoir

What's On This Site

Upcoming productions of Bagg's translations:

Oedipus The King at Randolph College, in Lynchberg, VA, October 2014.

Antigone at the National Institute of Theatre in Kensington, New South Wales, Australia, December 2014.

On July 10th, 2013 TALIESIN, with a script by Bagg, music by Neal Kirkwood and directed by Ralph Lee, opened the Mettawee River Theatre Company season in North Bennington. The first performance was at 8 PM on the Park-McCollough House lawn. TALIESIN (whose name means "radiant brow") is based on the vivid poems and semi-mythical life story of the sixth century Welsh bard who later appeared in King Arthur's court as Merlin.

The Mettawee has been performing shows using giant puppets in NY, Massachusetts and Vermont for the past 35 years and has won international acclaim for its production of established plays, like CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE and Aristophanes' PEACE, folk tales from diverse cultures, such as the current TALIESIN, and offbeat contemporary stories like archy and mehitabel. Ralph Lee, who won an Obie (Off-Broadway) award for his founding of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, was Robert Bagg's college roommate and directed Bagg's early plays NAUSIAA (based on Homer's ODYSSEY and CYCLOPS (translated from Euripides Greek original).

Six excerpts from Bagg's in progress biography of Richard Wilbur have been published to date. "The Poet in Rome: Richard Wilbur in Postwar Italy" in issue #4 of THE COMMON (a biannual), "Now That We Are In It," an illustrated account of Wilbur's politically charged undergrad years (1938-1942) in AMHERST, the college's alumni magazine, two excerpts on Wilbur's service in World War II in the Spring and Fall 2013 issues of THE HOPKIN'S REVIEW, an account of Wilbur's breakthrough years at Harvard, 1946-54 in the Summer 2013 issue THE YALE REVIEW, and one concerning his childhood and adolescence in THE NORTH DAKOTA REVIEW in July 2014.

Site visitors interested in reading Bagg's response to Peter Green's hostile review of THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF SOPHOCLES in the New York Review of Books will find a brief version posted on Bob's Blague page. A much more detailed rejoinder may be found at www.thecompletesophocles.com.


The solo volumes of the individual Sophocles plays––Aias, Philoktetes, Antigone, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Kolonos, and Women of Trakhis––were published on August 7th, and are available from Amazon at $8.99 each. The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus The King, Oedipus at Kolonos, and Antigone is now published in both the States and in the UK. Amazon is selling it for around $12 and its Indy price is $14.95. The intros of all eight volumes have been revised to accord with the contents, but the play text and the notes are identical to the mother book, The Complete Plays of Sophocles. The 3rd edition of the Norton Anthology of World Lit, now out, includes the Bagg translations of Oedipus the King and Antigone.

If you want to preview the feel and text of THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF SOPHOCLES click on the blue "Sophocles Widget" just to the left. You'll arrive at an innovation in book marketing (invented in Germany and now available to publishers and authors in the USA) that is in effect a mini website or biblet. Once there you can flip through and read the book's description, blurbs, & general intro, and then thumb through about 40 of its pages. Included are the opening scenes of AIAS & OEDIPUS THE KING. Eventually you'll be able to hear via the sound/​video feature a reading of the famous narrative of Orestes' (imaginary) chariot wreck. in Elektra There's also a connection to Indy Bookstores and internet stores that carry the book, which sells for about $17 new and $7 used.


You'll find on this site representative works by Robert Bagg––published and unpublished––in several genres: poetry, translations of Greek drama, literary criticism, fiction, memoir. Bagg is best known for his accurate and playable translations of the plays of Euripides and Sophokles—see a partial list of his productions on the lower right—and for poems that confront the unavoidable: love, friendship, death, regret, violence, pleasure, enlightenment, godhood; as well as more specific contemporary threats: nuclear war, terrorism, and democratically elected tyrants. Many of these works may be downloaded in their entirety.

The Essays page includes an essay that explores the neglected religious aspects of Richard Wilbur’s poetry, and others that address recurrent literary controversies as well as works by Shakespeare, Keats, Catullus, Sappho and Homer.

On the Fiction page you'll find downloadable files of Bagg’s unpublished novel,Ostrakon, which is the story of Jack Stoneycroft, a Professor of History, whose career is both destroyed and clarified when he’s charged with sexual harassment. Another novel, Villa of the Mysteries, is under revision and will be posted in early 2012. Villa follows the troubles a newlywed couple face in Cap d’Antibes, France, during the tumultuous events of 1958.

On the Memoir page Bagg will post reflections on various eras and aspects of his life as they're completed, or freed for posting after publication.

The Translations page provides access to substantial excerpts from the two plays by Euripides, The Bakkhai and Hippolytos. Plot summaries and press and theatrical reviews of all the plays are also posted. Excerpts of his translations of five plays by Sophocles have been withdrawn, awaiting their publication by HarperCollins, and may be eventually restored.

This site will remain a work-in-progress, so if you're interested in seeing new poems, recent literary essays, and further installments of the memoir, check in from time to time.

Publication date is 24 July, copies available in June
Online catalogue copy from the Harper Perennial website:

Sophocles was the dominant Athenian playwright of the fifth century BCE. His best-known work, the three-play Oedipus cycle (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Kolonos, and Antigone), traces three generations of a family ravaged by the inscrutably vindictive god Apollo, who manipulates his victims into committing unforgivable acts of incest, patricide, and kin murder. In Elektra and the Women of Trakhis Sophocles portrays two women who act righteously to save themselves and support those they love, yet do so in ways that betray and diminish their own humanity. In his less familiar but riveting war-zone dramas, Philoktetes and Aias, Sophocles works through the political and moral crises of war-weary, traumatized soldiers—a fact of life not only for the Trojan War-era protagonists of these plays but for war veterans and their families in Sophocles’ Athens. All are caught up in situations we recognize—including the feeling of being played by powers beyond our control. The effectiveness and timeliness of Sophocles’ dramas depend on translations such as these to resonate, intellectually and emotionally, with a contemporary audience. For a new generation entering the turbulent arena of ancient Greek drama, translators Robert Bagg and James Scully have produced a vivid, dynamic, and eminently readable translation in The Complete Plays of Sophocles.

The Tandem Ride, available in pb and hardbound
The Tandem Ride and Other Excursions is available on the Lulu site and eventually on www.SpiritusMundiPress.com, which will offer links to my friends' and my own books when it's fully up and running. I used Lulu's excellent––and Free––design and printing program to make the template for The Tandem Ride and to print copies, which will be sold on the Lulu site, as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at any retail outlets that choose to stock it. It's basically HORSEGOD with one poem omitted (we'll see if anyone notices) and three recent ones added. I've also tweaked a few poems and trimmed the front matter. The hardbound is pricey––$31.50––but the paperback is $13.50. The page count for both is higher, now 167 pages. The cover is based on a drawing by my son Chris Bagg, and jazzed into color by the Accurance site. It's a bit raucaus and undignified, but then so is much of the book. An ebook version is available for iPad, Nook, and other devices.

Cover Art by Leonard Baskin
You'll find on this site representative works by Robert Bagg––published and unpublished––in several genres: poetry, translations of Greek drama, literary criticism, fiction, memoir. Bagg is best known for his accurate and playable translations of the plays of Euripides and Sophokles—see a partial list of his productions on the lower right—and for poems that confront the unavoidable: love, friendship, death, regret, violence, pleasure, enlightenment, godhood; as well as more specific contemporary threats: nuclear war, terrorism, and democratically elected tyrants. Many of these works may be downloaded in their entirety.

The Essays page includes an essay that explores the neglected religious aspects of Richard Wilbur’s poetry, and others that address recurrent literary controversies as well as works by Shakespeare, Keats, Catullus, Sappho and Homer.

On the Fiction page you'll find downloadable files of Bagg’s two unpublished novels. The first, Villa of the Mysteries, follows the troubles a newlywed couple face in Cap d’Antibes, France, during the tumultuous events of 1958; the second, Ostrakon, is the story of Jack Stoneycroft, a Professor of History, whose career is both destroyed and clarified when he’s charged with sexual harassment.

On the Memoir page Bagg will post reflections on various eras and aspects of his life as they're completed, or freed for posting after publication.

The Translations page provides access to substantial excerpts from the two plays by Euripides, The Bakkhai and Hippolytos. Plot summaries and press and theatrical reviews of all the plays are also posted. Excerpts of his translations of five plays by Sophocles have been withdrawn, awaiting their publication by HarperCollins, and may be eventually restored.

This site will remain a work-in-progress, so if you're interested in seeing new poems, recent literary essays, and further installments of the memoir, check in from time to time.

The Complete Euripides: Volume III, Hippolytos, and other plays (Oxford UP) is now available. This volume, priced about $11 on the internet, contains a revised version of Hippolytos that was first staged at Barnard College in NYC in 2008 and directed by Sharon Fogarty.

A few copies of HORSEGOD: Collected Poems are available on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websitess. Bagg withdrew the book from publication and distribution by iUniverse following a disagreement with the publisher. On Bob's Blague page are reviews of HORSEGOD by Kirkus Discoveries, Patrick Gillespie, originally posted on his website, PoemShape, and one by Aemelia Klein published in the Winter 2011 issue of Amherst magazine. Under its new title, THE TANDEM RIDE, the poems in HORSEGOD will soon be reissue. The new version will delete one poem and add three poems written in 2010.

Bagg's translation of The Bakkhai was staged in September 2009 by the Utah Theatre Department as a Rock Opera with a bravura score by Joe Payne (who also designed the set) and directed by Larry West for five performances. For a few days the Mormon reaction to the production's radical take on the play stirred up a prime-time controversy in the press, on TV and the internet over morality and censorship. What was happening seemed interesting, so Bagg flew out to watch from a ringside seat. In a bizarre development, BYU cancelled the September 21st production of The Bakkhai, even as the touring company was setting up to perform. The BYU Theatre Department Chair cited (without specifying) certain aspects of the production that he feared would trouble BYU's student body. (See Bob's Blague for a report on his trip.) Three songs (downloadable at http://www.standard.net/topics/features/2009/09/17/greek-glam-tragedy) from the score really do rock; the young actor playing Dionysos has a Jim Morrison-like affect and voice; the Maenads look smashing in the photos and sing exuberantly. There's already a cast album CD available for sale by the Utah Theatre Department. To watch and hear about nine minutes of the show visit the following clip on You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Sk_d2rO3c

Also recently posted on Bob's Blague is Bob's discussion of the increasingly pertinent advantanges of self-publishing: "Why Perish? Self-Publish!"

A new version of "The Tandem Ride" is on the Poetry page, as well as updated versions of several narrative poems, including "Ostrakoi," now that it's been published in Yale Review (Spring, 2009). New to the Essays page is "Love, Ceremony and Daydream in Sappho's Lyrics," a detailed exploration of how Sappho used divinity and daydream in her poems to create a unique ambiance of shared intimacy for the young women in her circle. Also recent on the Essays page is an appreciation of James Scully, a fearless poet of extraordinary pertinence who writes real poems about real crimes whose true malevolence most Americans have yet to apprehend. Posted on the Memoir page are some remembered encounters with Frost, Wilbur, Plath, Ginsburg, Corso and others. Complete Texts of two novels, OSTRAKON & VILLA OF THE MYSTERIES may be downloaded from the Fiction page. More of Bagg's poems may now be scrolled thru on the Poetry page. A review of the Barnard College October, 2008 production of Bagg's version of Euripides' HIPPOLYTOS is posted on the site's Blague page. Next up on the Memoir page later this year will be Bagg's account of how he came to write poetry and translate Greek plays.

Bagg at the American Academy in Rome, October 2004

BOOKS BY ROBERT BAGG


Poems: 1956-57. Amherst: Spiritus Mundi Press, 1957. 60 pp.

Madonna of the Cello. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1961. 88 pp. Nominated for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize.

Euripides Hippolytos. tr. by Robert Bagg, art by Leonard Baskin. Northampton: Gehenna Press, 1969. 72 pp.

Liberations: Three one-act plays adapted from ancient originals by Robert Bagg Northampton: Spiritus Mundi Press, 1969. 82 pp.

The Scrawny Sonnets and Other Narratives. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973. 54 pp.

Hippolytos by Euripides, tr. by Robert Bagg with introduction and notes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973. 105 pp.
London: Oxford University Press, 1974. 105 pp. Paper edition 1992.

The Bakkhai by Euripides, tr. by Robert Bagg with introduction and notes Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1978. 82 pp. Revised edition published 1980; reprinted in Classical Tragedy Greek and Roman, Corrigan, Robert W., ed. New York: Applause Books, 1991. 367-431.

Oedipus the King by Sophocles, tr. by Robert Bagg with introduction and notes Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982. 82 pp. Reprinted in Composition and Literature, Exploring Human Experience. New York: HarBrace, 1987. 834-879; The McGraw-Hill Book of Drama. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994. 64-87.

The Worst Kiss: Poems. Chester, MA: Hollow Spring Press, 1985. 28 pp.

Special Occasions: Poems. Chester, MA: Hollow Spring Press, 1986. 36 pp.

Body Blows: poems new and selected. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988. 119 pp.

The Hour Test: Poems. Hatfield: Spiritus Mundi Press, 1994. 24 pp.

The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles. Translated by Robert Bagg; introductions and notes by Robert and Mary Bagg. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004, 269 pp.

Niké and other poems. Washington, DC Azul Editions, 2005. 64 pp.

HORSEGOD: Collected Poems New York and London, iUniverse, 2009, 180 pp.

The Complete Euripides: Hippolytos and Other Plays, Oxford UP, pp. 363

Purchase Robert Bagg's Books from:


THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS PRESS:

THE BAKKHAI by Eupipides
BODY BLOWS: New and Selected Poems
(1 800-537-5487 or www.umass.edu.umpress)

AZUL EDITIONS:

Niké and other poems by Robert Bagg
TEN YEARS by Grandin Conover, with an introduction by Robert Bagg
(www.azuleditions.com)

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS:

Euripides' HIPPOLYTOS, translated by Robert Bagg
(www.oup.com)

The Complete Euripides: Hippolytos and Other Plays, Oxford UP, pp. 363

Bagg's books published by other presses and now out of print, THE WORST KISS, THE SCRAWNY SONNETS, MADONNA OF THE CELLO, LIBERATIONS, and SPECIAL OCCASIONS may be ordered from the used-book sections of amazon.com or bn.com or by contacting the author at rebagg@​earthlink.net

Performance Rights


Reproduction and performance rights to the translations and other material in Bagg's published books are fully protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce or perform the plays in any medium must be obtained (for The Bakkhai) in writing from University of Massachhusetts Press, PO Box 429, Amherst MA 01004. For performance rights to Hippolytos contact Robert Bagg at rebagg@​earthlink.net. For performance rights to Oedipus the King, Antigone, Oedipus at Kolonos, Elektra, Women of Trakhis, Aias and Philoktetes (the two latter translated by James Scully) contact:

The Strothman Agency, LLC




6 Beacon Street
Suite 810
Boston, MA 02108
617-742-2012
http:/​/​www.strothmanagency.com


Selected Works

BODY BLOWS

Niké AND OTHER POEMS AZUL EDITIONS (2005)

THE SCRAWNY SONNETS

MADONNA OF THE CELLO

THE WORST KISS

HIPPOLYTOS

OEDIPUS THE KING

THE BAKKHAI by Euripides

WOMEN OF TRACHIS

Sites Where Bagg's Translations have been staged

Amherst College (2)
Barnard College
Bloomington Town Theater, Indiana
Cambridge University
Colby State College
Counterpoint Theater, Boston
Firehouse Theater, Toronto
Great Lakes Theater Festival, Cleveland
Groton School
Harvard
Harvard Radcliffe Summer Theater
Hampshire College
Keene State College
Lehman College
National Institue of Theatre Arts, Kensington, Australia
Nazareth College
North Carolina School of the Arts
Northwestern
Milton h.s., NY
Prince Albert Community Players, Saskatchewan, CA
Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA
Smith College
State University at Albany
University of Colorado
University of Georgia
University of Illiinois at Champaign-Urbana
University of Manitoba
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Michigan
University of North Carolina;
University of San Diego
Universiry of San Francisco
University of Trent, Canada
University of Utah (6)
Wesleyan (2)
West Potomac High, Alexandria, Virginia
William and Mary College
Yale Drama School (2)

Outdoor performances in Galatos and Epidauros Greece; Nashville, Tennessee; and Venice, California

New Content on Bob's Blague Page: Current Reviews of THE COMPLETE PLAYS OF SOPHOCLES and THE TANDEM RIDE and Other Excursions: Poems 1955-2010