Sapphos Sprung

Most gentlemen don’t like love, the Cole Porter tune goes: “As madam Sappho in some sonnet said, / A slap and a tickle / Is all that the fickle / Male / Ever has in his head.“

Creative, influential women have always attracted more hostility than praise. The most famous of a tiny handful of women in Western antiquity whose writings have survived, the Greek poet Sappho has been imagined through 26 centuries in shapes that reflect the anxieties of their time and place. Ancient readers considered her a composer of exceptional power, a mortal Muse whose image they memorialized in monuments and coins. But they also turned her near uniqueness as a female writer into a morality tale of sexual and social deviance. / Joy Connolly, NYT 18.5.03 über

SAPPHO’S LEAP
By Erica Jong.
316 pp. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. $24.95.

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