Leon Garfield Barbara Wersba - Essay

Barbara Wersba

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

A re-creation of myriad Greek legends, this long and detailed book ["The God Beneath the Sea"] quivers with excitement. Its language is like a mosaic of fiery, precious jewels; and its interwoven plots are brilliantly handled. Beginning with the creation of the world, the book advances swiftly to the creation of the gods and then to the creation of man. The cast of characters is enormous, yet each god takes on a distinct personality. Nothing is omitted here, whether it be the agony of the bound Prometheus or the tragic fate of crippled Hephaestus or the wild lusts of Zeus. The making of mankind from a few handfuls of clay is perhaps the most moving part of the story…. The death of the first pitiful man, the unleashing upon the world of evil and sickness by Pandora—all these episodes touch the heart quite strangely. They are only myths, yet they seem to be a total dream-history of the world. Authors Garfield and Blishen have written a strong, sensual and complicated book for adolescents, who are of course the very people that will appreciate it most. (p. 46)

Barbara Wersba, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1971 by the New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), May 2, 1971.