Monday, May 1, 2000

The 306 Greatest Books #14 - Oedipus Rex

I am going back and posting all of my previous book reviews so that they are listed on my site in chronological order. The reviews are dated for the time when I read the book, hence the reason many of them will be listed for times before this website existed. 

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. This book can be found on the Sybervision and the Norwegian Book Lists. 

Oedipus Rex is one of those plays that sticks with you for long after you read it. Even though it has been a very long time since I read it in my humanities class in undergrad I still recall the play vividly and how it made me feel. The story is the ultimate classic, about a man who murders his father and marries his mother. The purpose of the play is about fate and how the more you try to avoid fate the more you are going to cause fate to happen. How does knowing the future help us or how could it cause the future to happen? The most tragic thing about the whole story was it wasn't all Oedipus' fault. It started with his parents and their "curse" was carried down to him, and really was about him in the first place, but they got the proverbial ball rolling. This is a story-line that has been rehashed over and over again throughout our literary history and here is one of the first, and one of the best, to use it. I found the play very easy to understand and enjoyable. There are also two plays that continue the story, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, although those are not as well known as this one.