Lysistrata and Banned Book Week

Monday, October 1, 2012


Banned Book Week is a big deal to me and each year I try to read at least one banned book to celebrate our freedom to choose what we read. This year it is from Sept. 30-Oct. 6, 2012 and I hope you'll all get out there and find at least one banned book to read or to give to someone else.

Lysistrata
by Aristophanes
★★★★
 
This comedy, originally written in 411 BC, was banned in 1967 in Greece because of its anti-war message. This modern translation by Douglass Parker breathes new life into the story and makes it accessible for all audiences.
 
The women in Greece decide that they are tired of their men always being away fighting the Peloponnesian War. One woman, Lysistrata, comes up with a brilliant idea and recruits the rest of the women to take part in her plan. They decide as a group to withhold sex from the men until they make peace. They lock themselves in the Acropolis and resist all temptation to give in to their husband’s demands. I loved the fact that the women don’t deny their own sexual desires and they have to fight both their urges and their husbands’ desires to make the plan work.
 
One of the funniest scenes includes a woman desperate to go back home to her husband. She announces she much leave and find a midwife because she’s about to deliver her baby… even though she wasn’t pregnant the day before. The women quickly call her on it and make her remove the metal helmet from under her dress where it was being smuggled to make her look pregnant.
 
BOTTOM LINE: The humor definitely plays better on the stage than the page, but I’ve found that to be true with all comedic plays. The premise is clever and fun and though it may be a bit silly, the message of encouraging peace is a good one.

Image from here.

14 comments:

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Arrgh, so many plans that I can't keep up with! I meant to (finally!) read Huckleberry Finn this year, but it will not be. Next year, hopefully!

Jeanne said...

When I've taught this play, the most fun we've had is picking out all the double entendres, and comparing how each translator picks and chooses his/her favorites.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alex - I know, I'm constantly realizing I've missed the boat on another challenge I wanted to participate in.

Jeanne - That would be fascinating. I'm sure the translator would make a huge difference in how the play comes across.

Nikki Steele said...

How interesting that such an older text could still be banned after it's reached "Classic" status! Have you read "The Uncoupling" by Meg Wolitzer? It's a kind of retelling of the play in modern times and it's a really swell read.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Nikki - I had no idea Uncoupling was a retelling of the play. I'm definitely going to have to check it out now.

Jenners said...

I think if all the women of the world adopted this plan, we'd have world peace! Let's Try!

Dale said...

I re-read Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five for Banned Book Week. I've gotten to where I really look forward to this week, also.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - Can you imagine? That would be hilarious!

Dale - That's a great one! I'm such a fan of Vonnegut, especially since he's from my city.

Trish said...

I have this one on the shelf and should really re-read it. I took a Comedy course in college and we read several of them but you're right--you have to watch them!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - I would love to take a course on comedy plays. That sounds so interesting!

Amy said...

There's a movie by a Lebanese director, Nadine Labaki, called Where Do We Go Now, which is also a retelling of Lysistrata. I haven't seen it (these interesting films never show where I live), but I will certainly try to after reading Lysistrata, which is on my list, too.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy - That sounds fascinating! I'll have to find a copy when it is available. I have the same problem in Indy. Most of the films I want to see either never make it to my city or they come to our local art cinema for a short time.

theclassicsclubblog said...

I have this downloaded, just waiting for me to read it! Plays are tricky, but I hope it works for me too! -Sarah

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sarah - Plays are tricky! Sometimes the power of seeing it performed just doesn't translate well on the page.