25 May 2017, The Tablet

A tale of savage Greeks

by David Chater

 

House of Names

COLM TóIBíN
(viking, 272 PP, £12.99)
tablet bookshop price £11.70 • tel 01420 592974

Colm Tóibín’s House of Names is a magnificent novel. The Dublin-based writer, three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, retells Aeschylus’ tale of sacrifice, murder and revenge from the Oresteia with a naked and shocking immediacy. We may think of the world today as a bleak and godless place, with Islamic State burning people alive, child abuse rampant and the worst of human nature being flaunted in high office but, boy, those ancient Greeks can teach us a thing or two about evil. There is nothing distant and abstract about the events described. No comfort is offered by the ­passage of time.

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