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Deep down

Julian Symons, 28 June 1990

The Last World 
by Christoph Ransmayr, translated by John Woods.
Chatto, 202 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3502 6
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The End of Lieutenant Boruvka 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Faber, 188 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14973 1
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The Dwarves of Death 
by Jonathan Coe.
Fourth Estate, 198 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 1 872180 51 5
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Last Loves 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 190 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 333 51783 0
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... his notes to The Waste Land, an exhibition of bogus scholarship. The questions must be asked about Christoph Ransmayr’s The Last World, which has as many levels as a layer cake. On the surface this is about Cotta, a friend and admirer of the banished Roman poet Ovid, who makes a pilgrimage to the town of Tomi in an unsuccessful search for the ...

Disorientation

Jonathan Coe, 5 October 1995

The Island of the Day Before 
by Umberto Eco.
Secker, 513 pp., £16.99, October 1995, 0 436 20270 0
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... World, a short and cheerless fictionalisation of Ovid’s years in exile by the Austrian writer Christoph Ransmayr, was a bestseller throughout most of Europe while doing poorly in this country, but any thoughts that this lucrative sub-genre might have played itself out have been dispelled recently by the extraordinary success of Jostein Gaardner’s ...

I shall be read

Denis Feeney: Ovid’s Revenge, 17 August 2006

Ovid: The Poems of Exile: ‘Tristia’ and the ‘Black Sea Letters’ 
translated by Peter Green.
California, 451 pp., £12.95, March 2005, 0 520 24260 2
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Ovid: Epistulae ex Ponto, Book I 
translated and edited by Jan Felix Gaertner.
Oxford, 606 pp., £90, October 2005, 0 19 927721 4
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... non-professionals, most strikingly in the novels of David Malouf (An Imaginary Life, 1978) and Christoph Ransmayr (The Last World, 1988). Interest in exile as a subject has reinforced the relentless expansion of modern scholarship into former niche areas, and Ovid’s exile poetry has now become one of Latin’s take-off industries. Gaertner’s ...

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