Welcome to the site of Daisy Dunn, writer, classicist and author of:
Buy CATULLUS’ BEDSPREAD: THE LIFE OF ROME’S MOST EROTIC POET:
Buy THE POEMS OF CATULLUS: A NEW TRANSLATION:
Catullus’ Bedspread: The Life of Rome’s Most Erotic Poet
‘An amazing mixture of pacey biography and first-rate literary analysis. Rome’s most famous bad boy poet comes alive as never before. Stunning’ - Boris Johnson
‘For those of us who love counting stars none burns brighter in the literary firmament than that of Gaius Valerius Catullus – Daisy Dunn’s brilliant new biography of the Roman master shines beams of light on his darkly passionate poetry’
- Professor Paul Cartledge
‘Lyrical, playful and startlingly original…Breathes extraordinary new life into the classical world. An unforgettable journey into the high art and low life of ancient Rome’
- Dan Jones
Simultaneously imaginative and learned, Daisy Dunn has written the perfect introduction to Catullus and his world’ – Tom Holland
‘A haunting reminder of how little humanity has changed over two thousand years and a moving introduction to the greatest love poet of all time’ – Robert Harris
‘A superlative translation…Dunn’s beautifully written biography is a superb portrait of this most human of poets who leaps to life, hating and loving as ferociously as ever, before our 21st-century eyes’ - The Sunday Times
‘This is a triumph of modern classical scholarship made accessible through lucid writing’ - The Independent (full review)
‘Dunn succeeds through a confection of history, literary criticism and imaginative travelogue. She is an appreciative and observant guide, pointing to continuities in the landscape and teasing out ancient allusions. There are fascinating digressions … Dunn’s prose is Catullan in its versatility: she can be deliciously coarse and … lyrical. She marshals the poems into a life story, yet retains something of their fluidity, reflecting the structure of Catullus’s collection ― neither chronological nor entirely thematic, but hardly random either. Like a good music album. Not since Nicola Shulman’s ‘Graven with Diamonds’ has literary criticism seemed so thrilling. An imaginative, enriching and quick-witted book reminds us that Catullus is a poet for all time’ - Standpoint (full review)
‘The task of piecing together a biography from verse alone is one that Daisy Dunn performs with admirable creativity and diligence’ - The Times
‘A lively, finely crafted biography…Dunn skilfully avoids the pitfalls of obscurity or glibness, weaving well-researched social history with a compelling account of political machinations in Rome’ - The Observer (full review)
‘Dunn writes beautifully and clearly adores her subject. She deserves plaudits for bringing this fine poet and his tumultuous times so vividly to life’ – Daily Mail (full review)
‘Step forward young classicist and art historian Daisy Dunn to imaginatively revive this most accessible of Roman poets…Dunn is an intelligent and often original interpreter of the poetry and provides clear, direct and readable translations’ - Financial Times
‘A biography of Catullus is a bold undertaking…she has brought it off admirably. Daisy Dunn has very skilfully fashioned a full and persuasive biography from meagre records. Dunn has translated and analysed [the poems] acutely. Any reader of Catullus will want to have this book’ - Allan Massie, Literary Review
‘Enjoyable and diligently researched…Dunn’s undoubted strength is as a sure-footed and elegant literary critic, particularly when it comes to poem 64, the scintillating mini-epic (Dunn’s own deft version is included as an appendix; and she has translated, with bright-eyed intelligence, all the poems in another volume.)…Catullus’ Bedspread is richly woven, and Dunn’s deep passion for her subject is patent’ - The Spectator
‘Dunn knows Catullus’s work inside out and skilfully interweaves an impressive number of his surviving 117 poems into her text…Both The Poems of Catullus and Catullus’ Bedspread represent a rollicking good read for all’ - New Statesman
‘A wonderfully vivid biography’ - The Week
‘Hugely enjoyable…Daisy Dunn lifts the lid on an era and world that remains engrossing two millennia on’ - The Catholic Herald
‘The narrative is fresh, pacy, well-structured and incredibly well-researched…She adores this ancient verse-maker, and now, since reading her first books – published concurrently – so do I’ - Erotic Review (full review)
‘This is a rewarding, idiosyncratic book…Catullus would certainly applaud’ - Country Life
‘Wonderfully lucid and original book, Dunn has brought both the man and his world into sharp, colourful focus’ - Surrey Life
‘Check out: sexy old Catullus in Daisy Dunn’s inspired new translation of the Roman poet’s work’ – From Simon Barnes’s column in The Sunday Times
‘Dunn’s work is sure to entice intrigued readers to her worthy subject…Extracting insights about Catullus’ life from his poems, she places him expertly in his time and place…Dunn’s exploration provides fascinating nuggets of knowledge, social history, and poetry’ - Publishers Weekly; US
‘Delves deep into the ancient Roman cultural and political climate in which the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus crafted his erotic poems. . . .Well-researched. . . . The author skillfully pieces together an uncensored portrait of her subject’ - Library Journal, US
‘An appreciative, informed biography of Rome’s first lyric poet. . . . A fresh, knowledgeable introduction to life, love, war, and rivalries in ancient Rome’ - Kirkus Reviews
The Wall Street Journal picks Catullus’ Bedspread as a summer read: http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-summer-nonfiction-preview-1464193959
The American Scholar (US): https://theamericanscholar.org/catullus-bedspread/#.V6npvleMCT8
Read an Interview with Daisy about Catullus here: http://www.quadrapheme.com/interview-daisy-dunn-on-catullus/
And another interview with Open Pen here: http://www.openpen.co.uk/an-interview-with-daisy-dunn/
And an interview with Kirkus books (US): https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/daisy-dunn/
Read Daisy’s essay on Catullus for Lit Hub (US): http://lithub.com/my-longest-healthy-relationship-is-with-the-dead-poet-catullus/
The Evening Standard (Londoner’s Diary) 22.01.16:
Tatler: Daisy Dunn’s Book Launch Party pictures: http://www.tatler.com/bystander/events/2016/january/daisy-dunns-book-launch-party#!/20503/image/1
Londoner’s Diary, 25th May 2016:
Living through the debauchery, decadence and political machinations of the crumbling Roman Republic, Gaius Valerius Catullus filled his passionate poetry with emotion, wit and lurid insight into many of the Republic’s most enduring figures. His poetry tells the story of a life beset with love, loss and the political conflict that dominated these years. His own scandalous love affairs brimmed with the excess, corruption and spectacle of his time.
Born in Verona around 82 BC, Catullus remains famous more than two thousand years after his death for the sharp, immediate poetry with which he skewered society in the late Republic. From mocking political Rome’s sparring titans – Pompey, Crassus and his father’s friend Julius Caesar – to his wry observations of cavorting youths, money-grabbing brothel-keepers or slaves who knew too much, Catullus was a reckless forefather of social satire. But it was for his erotic, scandalous but often tender love elegies that he became best known, inspired above all by his lasting affair with a married woman whom he immortalised as ‘Lesbia’ in his verse. He has been a monumental figure of reference for poets from Ovid and Virgil onwards, his greatest work of all his ‘bedspread poem’ that sets themes of love and war against the backdrop of the myth of the Ages.
Tracing his journey across youth and experience, from Verona to Rome, Bithynia to Lake Garda, Daisy Dunn rediscovers the world of Catullus’ passions. She explores his adventures at sea, the private dinners, lovers’ trysts and power games set amid the dying years of the Roman Republic. Written with a wit and energy that Catullus would surely have enjoyed, Daisy Dunn’s book gives a rare portrait of life during one of the most critical moments in world history, seen through the eyes of one of Rome’s greatest writers.
The Poems of Catullus: a new translation by Daisy Dunn
I hate and I love, why do I so, perhaps you ask? I do not know, but I feel it, and I am crucified.
Written in the twilight of the Roman Republic, the poetry of Gaius Valerius Catullus offers a delicious insight into the passions and gossip of high Roman society. From the poet and his friends to cultural and political titans, including Caesar, Cicero and Pompey, his cutting, modern verse spares no one. In this new translation by Daisy Dunn, author of Catullus’ Bedspread, his obscene honesty, arrogant wit and surprising tenderness capture Roman society at its best.
Most famous for his obsessive love lyrics for the married Lesbia, Catullus’ words are an immortal expression of youth, rebellion and agonised love.