Synopses & Reviews
Gilbert Highet was a legendary teacher at Columbia University, admired both for his scholarship and his charisma as a lecturer. Poets in a Landscape is his delightful exploration of Latin literature and the Italian landscape. As Highet writes in his introduction, “I have endeavored to recall some of the greatest Roman poets by describing the places were they lived, recreating their characters and evoking the essence of their work.” The poets are Catullus, Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Tibullus, Ovid, and Juvenal. Highet brings them life, setting them in their historical context and locating them in the physical world, while also offering crisp modern translations of the poets finest work. The result is an entirely sui generis amalgam of travel writing, biography, criticism, and pure poetry—altogether an unexcelled introduction to the world of the classics.
About the Author
Gilbert Highet (1906-1978) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, to a middle-class family. He showed an early facility with Latin and Greek, reading Homer, Virgil, and Aeschylus for pleasure by the time he was sixteen. He attended Glasgow University, and later Oxfords Balliol College, sweeping up most of the available prizes and scholarships along the way. In 1937 Highet joined the faculty of Columbia University, becoming a full professor at thirty-one. He taught at Columbia until 1972 (with the exception of a period during WWII, when he was stationed as an officer in Washington, D.C. and later assisted in the return of looted goods in Europe), becoming a legend for his animated and inspiring lectures. A very public intellectual, Highet served on the boards of Horizon
magazine (1958-77) and the Book-of-the-Month Club (1954-78), was chief literary critic for Harper
s (1952-54), and hosted a cultural affairs radio program, People, Places, and Books (1952-59), that was broadcast on more than three hundred stations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Highet wrote, translated, or edited some twenty books, of which The Classical Tradition
(1949) and The Art of Teaching
(1950) remain the best known. He was married to Helen MacInnes, a successful writer of espionage novels, from 1932 until his death from cancer in 1978.
Michael C.J. Putnam is MacMillan professor emeritus of classics and comparative literature, Brown University. Among his recent books are Poetic Interplay: Catullus and Horace and Jacopo Sannazaro: The Latin Poetry. In May 2009 he was awarded the Centennial Medal by the American Academy in Rome. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society.