Bloomsbury (2018) 108pp £11.69 (ISBN 9781350010116)
This is an addition to Bloomsbury’s attractively produced series, endorsed by the OCR exam board, preparing students for a specific A level: in this case, 2020/21. The thorough commentary covers Poems 2, 4, 6, 10 and 12, and there are also brief comments on those that need to be known in translation: 1, 9, 11, 15, 17, 18. A.’s introduction is clear and informative, covering Ovid’s life and world, Latin love elegy, the Amores, Ovid’s style (including the influence of rhetoric), metre and afterlife. A. does not talk down to his readers. Not every student will keep up with his critical vocabulary: dilettante, conceit, eclectic, lyric forms (=metres), hymnody, genre; and some will need to have in flagrante explained to them. But this is absolutely as it should be. If they are serious about A level, students have to be comfortable with this register, and in any case teachers have a job to do. A. also makes less of a meal than some in this series of listing technical figures of speech; more opportunity here for development by teachers, who will doubtless also have to point out that chore is not the Greek for ‘girl’. This is an excellent addition to a very useful series. What a long way we have come from the days when all this reviewer had to prepare him for A level were dog-eared copies of Victorian commentaries, crammed with linguistic oddities.